Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob has advised the public against discussing the Police Complaints Authority’s investigation into ACP Irwin Hackshaw. Doing so, he warned yesterday, can prejudice the outcome of the matter when it finally goes before a tribunal.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Police Administration building in Port-of-Spain, Jacob explained that a tribunal set up by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is similar to a court matter.
“You will notice when we are doing investigations, we try our best to ensure that information surrounding the investigation is not ventilated in the public so that when the matter comes before the court, the question of bias will not interfere,” Jacob told the media.
Hackshaw was the subject of a PCA probe for his alleged acquisition of funds through a private job he undertook while on a year-long vacation without approval from the Police Commissioner.
Also commenting on the issue, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said while he did not want to “trivialise” the matter, said the one-hundred-page document sent to him by the PCA highlighting its findings and recommendations does not prove that Hackshaw committed a criminal offence but a breach of the police regulations.
Advising the PCA to not jump the gun, Griffith said it is only after the matter goes before a tribunal that any disciplinary action be taken against the senior officer. He also accused PCA Director David West of being unclear about certain policies within the service, adding that he (Griffith) has no issue with disciplining police officers in a responsible manner.
“I cannot be the complainant, I cannot be part of the tribunal and then give findings of the tribunal and then have it sent back to me to take action on Mr Hackshaw,” Griffith explained.
“Had there been three substantive DCPs, this matter could be dealt with immediately.”
He was referring to the fact that there are not currently enough officers at or above Hackshaw’s rank to constitute a tribunal to deal with the matter, which has held up the process with Hackshaw months away from pre-retirement leave.
Head of the TTPS Legal Unit Christian Chandler also questioned whether the PCA was not “scandalising” the issue by going to the public with the information of its findings first before the top cop.
He further questioned whether Hackshaw was being singled out.
“This is something so trivial and as the Commissioner would have said, we have hundreds of officers, who, for many years, would have been working in a private capacity. So why is it that they are not pushing the files for those other officers?” Chandler told the media.
This is not the first time Griffith has defended the TTPS against the PCA. The last public spat he had with the body surrounded the PCA’s call to have the police officers involved in the shooting death of three men in Morvant earlier this year suspended while a probe into the matter was in its early stages.