Williams: Criminal charges for rogue cops
By NALINEE SEELAL and ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Sunday, September 8 2013
click on pic to zoom in
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams....
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams yesterday sent down a stern warning to rogue cops in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service that once evidence is gathered against them, they will face criminal prosecution.
The Acting Commissioner made the disclosure amid fresh allegations that a junior officer in the Central Division photographed stolen items which were recovered earlier that day and sent it to the wife of a person who was detained in connection with the incident.
The officer in question was interviewed by officers of the Professional Standards Bureau on Thursday and was asked to provide a statement. His cellular phone was also seized.
According to police reports, on Wednesday night, a car belonging to another officer of the Central Division was broken into and items from the vehicle were stolen.
A report of the robbery was made, and shortly after, a police exercise was carried out by officers of the Central Division which took them to a house in Preysal, where some of the stolen items were recovered.
A male suspect who was at home at the Preysal location was taken into custody, and it is alleged that while at a police station in the Central Division, a junior officer used his cellphone to photograph the stolen items that were recovered from the house. He then allegedly sent these pictures to the wife of the detained man. Sources said after the suspect was held, the police returned to the house where the stolen items were discovered, detained the man’s wife for questioning and seized her cellphone.
It was while questioning the woman and reviewing the contents of her cellphone that the investigating officers saw photographs of the stolen items. The number of the cellphone from which the photographs were sent to the woman belonged to a junior officer in the division.
Up until yesterday the officer in question was still on active duty.
Acting Police Commissioner Williams confirmed to Sunday Newsday yesterday that both the Professional Standards Bureau and the Criminal Guard and Intelligence Unit were working together on several allegations of misconduct involving police officers.
Sunday Newsday had reported exclusively last month that two officers of an elite police unit in the Port-of-Spain Division were among a group of rogue officers being probed in connection with leaking information to gang members and gang leaders.
Those two officers have since been transferred to facilities in the Western Division and Northern Division. Williams also said yesterday, that based on certain allegations, a special team of investigators have been mandated to gather strong and tangible evidence to ensure criminal prosecution can take place.
“The public will soon see the arrest and prosecution of police officers involved in criminal activities. The TT Police Service is committed to getting rogue police officers out, and as a result, we have heightened our efforts in addressing all incidents based on any allegations for corrupt acts being carried out by police officers. So the public will soon see arrests and prosecutions of police officers who are involved in such acts,” Williams said.
Asked by Sunday Newsday if he can give a figure regarding the number of officers who were being probed, Williams declined to do so saying investigations were at a sensitive stage at this time.
Also contacted yesterday for comment, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson said the team of investigators probing alleged corrupt acts by police officers were working “around the clock” to bring closure to the investigations.
“As we speak right now, action is being taken. I don’t want to get into the details of what the action is, because it has the potential of jeopardising the stage of inquiries, but the public can rest assured the police is doing work to effectively deal with these rogue elements,” Richardson said.
Last week, Williams and Richardson met with the executive members of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association to discuss the issue of rogue cops and what was being done to deal with this problem. Reports are that both acting Inspector Anand Ramesar and Inspector Michael Seales offered their services in prosecuting officers involved in unlawful acts.
New Minister of National Security Garry Griffith yesterday echoed the views of Williams that corrupt elements in the Police Service must be rooted out and public trust and confidence be restored at all costs. “A critical element in defeating and tackling crime is based on the relationship of trust and support between the police and the citizens of this country,” Griffith said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, some of that trust and confidence may have been broken down due to the small percentage of rogue police who have tarnished the image of the Police Service.
“So it is critical that we weed out these bad apples before their actions spoil the whole bunch. This will assist in rebuilding that trust and confidence between citizens and police which is a crucial part of the initiatives we will be launching.
“The time for action regarding crime is now, and the country will be seeing a more aggressive approach from the Government and the TT Police Service as we prepare to stamp out criminality,” Griffith said.