Foundation to honour national security officers
By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, October 25 2012
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Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, left, Chief of Defence Staff, Brig Kenrick Maharaj, centre and Minister of National Security, Jack War...
TO honour members of protective services who die while in service and to help their surviving dependants, a foundation was launched yesterday at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, by Minister of National Security Jack Warner.
Top brass of all protective services including Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Chief of Defence Staff, Brig Kenrick Maharaj, attended a solemn ceremony to launch the National Security Officers Foundation.
Warner promised to build a military hospital (with Chinese funding), named a day to honour fallen officers (April 26), and invited municipal police officers to lobby him for the $1,000 grant given to full-time police officers and special reserve police officers. He agreed to a plea for a plot of land in central Trinidad to build a foundation headquarters, made by foundation chairman Keith Renaud, who heads a policy unit in the ministry. The foundation’s logo was unveiled.
“The State to date did not have in place, a formal system to pay tribute to these officers nor to those who continue to serve their country with distinction,” said Warner. “Internationally, foundations of this type are common in many parts of the developed world including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.”
He hailed the work of his predecessor, Brig John Sandy, in starting the work for the foundation and for agreeing to its motto, “Honoured in duty, Alive in memory”.
Warner said April 26, 2013, will see the first National Security Officers Day of Appreciation. “This day was chosen in recognition of the four fire-fighters and two soldiers who were killed in the Camp Ogden explosion on April 26, 1988,” he said. “This was the highest number of national security officers killed in the line of duty in a single incident, in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said the appreciation day would include an inter-faith service and an inter-agency parade. In addition to honouring deceased and living security officers, the foundation would also help their families. Warner said it would provide dependants with scholarships and other forms of financial assistance, act as a support mechanism to help survivors cope with the loss of their loved ones, and work with the public and private sectors to help prioritise access to housing, plus medical and other benefits. However, he said nothing about compensation for the families of officers killed in the line of duty.
Warner hoped the foundation would lobby for change, as he lamented delays in the payment of benefits to auxiliary fire officers due to an outdated system. He invited the foundation officials to make their voices heard at an anti-crime consultation he will host in January at the Centre of Excellence. He urged listeners to do all possible to restore law and order in TT, saying indiscipline is seen even in the protective services.
Warner reacted to public calls for his crime plan.“They want ‘Operation Anaconda’, they want ‘Operation Zaboca’, they want ‘Operation Warner’. They are getting nothing of the sort. They’ll get the crime plan as it evolves and emerges. But don’t expect any ‘Operation Warner’ — there’s nothing like that.”
After the function, Warner hurried off, bypassing reporters who had been told by a ministry official to assemble in a special area to interview him.