Sun | Aug 20, 2017

EDITORIAL - Keeping faith with the PSC

Published:Friday | August 29, 2014 | 8:00 AM

The choice of the best candidate for a job, especially in a leadership role, can't necessarily be determined only by who has the best academic qualification or who is the most technically competent. Myriad other factors, including the emotional intelligence of the candidate, or even how partners may respond to the appointment, could influence the decision.

That is why this newspaper urges caution on those who have begun to criticise, and gives the benefit of the doubt to the Police Service Commission (PSC) as it goes about selecting a new head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) after Owen Ellington's seemingly quick-fire decision two months ago to go into early retirement. There are suggestions that Mr Ellington was forced out of the job because of pressure on the Jamaican Government by the United States (US) - a critical provider of aid - with whom he had fallen out of favour. The members of the PSC are Professor Gordon Shirley, chairman; Dr Marshall Hall; Dr Robert Thompson; Dr Brian Morgan; and Mrs Arlene Harrison-Henry.

This is a group of highly intelligent and successful individuals who, individually, bear reputations for competence and integrity.

EMERGING CONTROVERSY

We raise this matter against the background of what appears to be an emerging controversy over the PSC's decision not to shortlist Wilfred Rattigan, a Jamaican who is an agent at America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with which he has had rocky relations which culminated in Mr Rattigan suing the US government over unfair and retaliatory treatment by the FBI because he complained of racist treatment by the agency.

There can be no question about Mr Rattigan's academic qualification or experience as a law-enforcement officer.

He has a first degree in criminology and a doctorate in law. He is a qualified attorney. At the time of the 9/11 attacks on America, Mr Rattigan headed the FBI office in Saudi Arabia, a post to which he had been promoted months earlier. Prior to his promotion, and after the 9/11 attacks, Mr Rattigan complained of discrimination and harassment and claimed that his office was starved of resources because of his race. Yet, Mr Rattigan argued, he faced contrived investigations, and effective demotion, over his competence and alleged failures by the Riyadh office under his management to follow leads. The situation was apparently complicated by Mr Rattigan's conversion to Islam not long after 9/11.

NEW, LIMITED STANDARDS

Mr Rattigan won a US$300,000 judgment against the American government, but that was appealed by the Department of Justice. His case also set new, limited standards under which US federal officials can raise civil-rights claims over security-clearance decisions because of false information reported by third parties.

The outcome of Mr Rattigan's case notwithstanding, we would not be surprised if he remained on the radar of the US Department of Justice and the leadership of the FBI, with whose senior officials he would have to interact, and perhaps work closely, as Jamaica's police chief. Whether this influenced the PSC, this newspaper is not aware.

Ultimately, we expect the PSC, despite the faux pas by National Security Minister Peter Bunting about what category of individuals might not be selected, to make the right decision for Jamaica, mindful of the fact that whoever gets the job has the tough job of overhauling a police force that has been stubbornly resistant to modernisation and the fight against corruption.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.