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Police service needs to do serious introspection

Published: 
Monday, September 11, 2017

As a consequence of the devious behaviour of some citizens towards the Police, as of recent in the Princes Town and Beetham areas, I took the opportunity to consult with some serving and retired members of the Organise Crime Narcotic and Firearm Bureau of Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, as to what were the causes and what should be done to that undesirable behaviour.

Three pertinent areas were identified and discussed: (a) the culture within the Police Service; (B) the dissatisfaction from the public the service mete out to them, when there interaction with the Police; (c) the State obligation to the police and people; (d) the behaviour of Parliamentarians and their influence on the youths.

(a) The culture: It is a known fact that officers are selected from the communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago and given a six to nine months training in Criminal Law, Police Duties, Community Policing etc, to the best of their lecturers’ ability.

They are then transferred to the various divisions within the Police Service, where they adopt police culture of covering up and supporting wrong doings inculcated over the years—which was accepted by John Public in the past. But not of today’s where information comes into your bedrooms via the internet. The society is more informed.

In this area Police Administration is to blame, where the promotion practices is academics in subjects not conducive to proper policing. So gone are the days of the Station Sgt lecturing on the laws and police duties, for nowadays he himself does not know. The two months in-service training of years gone by for constables to sergeants at the Academy no longer exists. No more parade and inspection before going on street and mobile patrols, and being told what is expected of you, your areas of patrol and the unexpected visit by the Sgt or Cpl.

It is now a case of the tail leading the dog and political interference where friends of politicians are promoted and placed in sensitive areas—square pegs in round holes.

(b) The public then feels cheated with their interaction with officers. Complaints are not properly investigated, they come to stations looking for legal advice or satisfaction and leave very disgruntled because of the officers attitude or he/she being disrespectful, whereas the said police officer is paid to Protect and Serve the people. In other words the police ought to know the culture of the people for it is there whence he came.

The alternative given to the dissatisfied civilian is to rebel when there is police presence in the communities. They do so by being abusive to the said police by verbal threats and violence. The Police are then left in a quandary as to how to settle disputes at that point for they are headless—no leader, no one in-charge. So it is free for all between police, civilian and cell phones.

(c) The State has also failed in its obligation towards the police in policies, workable laws, for example, a national DNA gathering.

(d) Mr and Mrs Parliamentarian, conduct yourselves as gentlemen and ladies, for on the streets the youth are observing and listening.

Finally, there is a section in the Police Service Act which speaks of appearance and turn out, which carries with it“Respect of oneself and John Public will respect you.”

ATHELSTON CLINTON

ARIMA