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Gun danger

By LARA PICKFORD-GORDON Monday, July 1 2013

click on pic to zoom in
Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Marlene Coudray....
Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Marlene Coudray....

There is a danger when civilians can access guns and ammunition when they are hired as municipal officers before undergoing training at the Police Academy.

This concern was highlighted by former Chief Executive Officer of the San Fernando City Corporation, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Marlene Coudray who recalled sending several letters “imploring the Commission not to hire civilians as police officers because the municipalities have no use for them until they were trained as police officers.

“So they come to the Corporation and they get paid like the trained police constables who are there, the corporations have to spend money to pass them through the police training academy, sometimes it does not happen at the same time, so you expose the corporation to all kinds of issues,” Coudray said at the Joint Select Committee meeting of the Parliament last Friday when the JSC met with members of the Statutory Authorities Service Commission (SASC) at the J Hamilton Maurice Room, Tower D.

Coudray said many times persons were asked to report to the Commission because the Corporation had no need for them, and this created friction between Corporation and SASC.

According to Coudray suggestions were sent to the SASC for the hired persons to be designated trainee officers then immediately sent for training.

“They should not be taken on board until the training academy is ready for their input,” she said. It was also recommended the officer pay back the money spent by the Corporation on training.

Commenting on salaries she said there was once parity between the municipal and central police but after negotiations, central officers were put at higher ranges. Coudray said there should be no salary disparity and asserted that municipal officers did more than central officers as they had to be indoctrinated into laws and bye laws of the corporations.

Coudray said the issue of the municipal police was ongoing and has affected the performance of the corporations in having continuity in policing.

Chairman of the SASC Valentine Steve Alvarez acknowledged that persons being hired as officers before being trained was a complaint which had been raised by the corporations. He said a challenge for the SASC was that municipal officers could not be trained at the Commission’s “whim and fancy” and it had to wait until the Police Academy could accommodate them.

“Our challenge is what to do with this individual from the point of recruitment to training and that is where we have the issues.”

The SASC has recommended that the recruit not be appointed a police officer until they were trained. It was suggested that their services be used in another department until the academy was ready to train them. JSC Chairman Subhas Ramkhelawan noted the concerns raised by Coudray about civilans hired as constables and accessing to “police paraphernalia.” Alvarez said he was sure persons could have access to arms and ammunition since they were not precepted. Ramkhelawan questioned how someone hired as a constable could be utilised in other areas of the Corporation.

“That is where we have the challenge,” Alvarez responded.

Coudray disagreed that civilians did not have access to arms and ammunition saying that after getting their letters of appointment civilians reported to police stations.

“The keys are there, the arms are there, and everything is there so they do have access and that is the danger with that appointment,” she said.

Alvarez said one of the problems faced by Corporations was that after officers were trained, transfers were sought to work in central police “because the terms and conditions are more attractive.” In response to this the SASC has recommended that the remuneration for municipal officer be similar to other police officers.

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