WORK TOGETHER TO STOP THE KILLING
By CAROL MATROO Sunday, September 1 2013
President Anthony Carmona yesterday said families of police officers and other members of the armed forced who are killed in the line of duty must not be forgotten and, in fact, must be properly compensated for their loss.
Saying these men served and protected Trinidad and Tobago, Carmona said the wife of a fallen soldier or police officer should be awarded two years of his salary and that any children should be given a dependence until they were 18 years old.
Speaking at a reception at Police Administration Building on Sackville Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, to celebrate this country’s 51st Anniversary of its Independence and which was attended by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams among others, Carmona posed these questions:
“What happens to the wife? What happens to the children? I think of Officer (Hayden) Manwaring who will receive a national medal tonight. What about his wife? What about his children? “Are officers remembered? What has become of their families? Do we care? Well we do and we must do something about it, and we must do so in the right way.”
Sgt Manwaring and his colleague, PC Nicholas Philli were shot when they responded to a report of robbery at Mom’s Diner on Cipero Street, San Fernando, in February this year.
He was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Bronze) for gallantry last night. Carmona also called on the Prime Minister and Rowley to work together to deal with the escalating crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago as he lamented the fact that so many of the nation’s youth were being killed.
Within the space of two weeks, four teenagers were brutally murdered after being shot multiple times in and around the capital city of Port-of-Spain. The latest was that of Kazim Maxine who was shot 25 times while leaving the Laventille Technology and Continuing Education Centre, last Wednesday.
Carmona said the daily ritual of picking up bodies of young men took a toll on everyone, more so police officers, which may impact on the quality of the investigations into the murders.
“It is not an easy task to experience so many of our young men dying. What is even more hurtful is when life is trivialised as being characterised as being gang related.
“When a mother weeps over the body of her 16-year-old son, that is her son. That is somebody’s friend, somebody’s nephew, somebody’s cousin, that is a human being, that person is not a statistic.
“In this regard it is fortunate that we have Prime Minister Kamla Persad–Bissessar and Dr Keith Rowley, and it’s my responsibility to ask on behalf of the nation your very serious intervention, collaboration and cooperation in arresting this crisis,” Carmona said.
The President also said the work of a police officer was one that was not fully appreciated by those who demanded standards but who were not prepared to invoke such standards in their daily lives.
“I was a criminal judge and a deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, so I know what is going on. I know Dr Rowley and Madame Prime Minister, in your hearts, it hurts every day when a child falls. I know, but apart from those who suffer, police officers suffer.
“It is my humble view that we need in the (Police) Service clinical psychologists to deal with that emotional pain and frustration suffered daily by the officers. Police officers are not machines. As a result of the pressures put on them, there is that risk that they might become overzealous and bend the rules. “The bottom line, officers, if there is no evidence against a man, you cannot charge him.
“I can tell you I too have felt your pain as a prosecutor,” he said, reacalling times when he had to free criminals because of shoddy evidence produced by police officers.
Carmona said there was a need to impress upon police officers that they do not need to be overzealous and bend the rules of engagement, and by extension the rule of law.
He also suggested that roadblocks be conducted holistically.
“We speak about the need for community policing, so why is it when we have roadblocks they last one to two hours? Why don’t we have roving roadblocks in Morvant, Curepe Junction, Barataria... especially when you are living in an age of cellular technology?
“Why is it when families are going to the beach, there are massive roadblocks. It is as if there is some kind of sadistic satisfaction ensuring that you are in traffic jam five days a week and you’ve gotten a holiday, so you’re not going to enjoy it,” the President said.
Carmona also questioned why police officers, when conducting search warrants, did not use video cameras that could be used as evidence to support their case if questioned.
“If you are a straight and law-abiding citizen on a daily basis, the end result is that if you become a juror, on an iPhone, you would be disinclined to believe the evidence of the officers who are confronted with allegations, that is the reality. We need to be very holistic in the way we interact with the public and more importantly when they engage in investigations.
“We continue to do these things not only to build morale in the community, but also in the Police Service. I have met great police officers, there are great police officers and we must encourage them by bringing a sense of humanity in the exercise of our responsibilities and our investigations,” the President said.
The reception at the Police Administration Builidng was the first of three receptions attended by Carmona yesterday to toast the Nation’s 51st anniversary. Independence. He later spoke at the Fire Services’ reception at Roberts Street, Woodbrook, and then at another reception at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain. Carmona also said TT was no “banana republic”, but a country with natural justice and a republic that continued to strive forward.
“Yes, we sometimes fall, and we are no failed state...we are the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” Carmona said.