The East Indian head of a commission that approves promotions and the hiring of senior police officers says there are too many Afros at the top of the police force in Trinidad and he plans to do all he can to change the current composition.
Nizam Mohammed wants the support of the 41-member parliament in which the governing People’s Partnership administration has a two-thirds majority, to help him bring more Indos into the senior ranks of the force, suggesting that more Indians at the helm will help the force win more cooperation from that section of the twin island republic with Tobago’s population of 1.3 million.
But his outburst at a meeting in Port of Spain at the weekend has triggered quick reaction from fellow members of the Police Service Commission as he alleged strains in relations between the two major race groups in the system are largely so because people pay attention to who is in charge and who is not.
But most of the other members have distanced themselves from his comments and suggests he tones down his charge.
Citing figures, Mohammed said that out of 10 assistant commissioners, “you don’t have a single one of Indian origin and out of three deputy commissioners, none of Indian origin.”
But even as he spoke fellow members and even Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis spoke about how offended they had been in the wake of the chairman’s outburst. She is upset because she is part of the country’s large group of so called mixed race people and don’t always seem to be counted.
“I just never like that, those kinds of statements being made or those types of classifications, especially someone like myself who is from all (both African and East Indian descent). When you all determine that, how do you all determine me? Because if you start to classify people as East Indian and African, we are running into a problem and this is exactly as a government what we are trying to get away from. We are trying to go for everybody,” she said. The minister is a member of the commission.
Other commission colleagues supported her even as Mohammed said there is some hope at the level of superintendents, where there are nearly a dozen in the senior ranks at that level. He appears to be adamant that the status quo “has to be corrected” even though he offered no more detailed a road map than to say that promotional examinations scheduled for this week could see some Indians moving up the ladder in the near future.