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Police Service knocked

ANDRE BAGOO Monday, March 17 2014

THE POLICE Service “had no plan in place” to deal with what emerged on July 27, 1990, the Sir David Simmons Commission of Enquiry has found.

“The Police Service had no plan in place to deal with an emergency of the magnitude which befell Trinidad on the evening and night of 27 July, 1990 or at all,” the report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, states.

“The Acting Commissioner of Police never directed his mind properly to the matter of looting until long after it was underway, and not before the coming into force of the State of Emergency on Saturday July 28,” Sir David’s Report states. “By this time, a quite substantial amount of theft had been perpetrated throughout the East/West corridor.”

Further, “No attempt was made to muster off-duty police officers during the first day of the crisis. There was an insufficiency of manpower available to the leadership of the Police Service.”

The report also finds failings in the health services, noting there was no emergency plan to deal with a situation like the one that had happened. In its recommendations, the report recommends establishment of a new Anti-Corruption Unit straddling the Police Service and Customs and Excise.

“We recommend that state-of-the-art scanners be installed at all legal ports notwithstanding that the bulk of contraband enters the State through illegal ports,” the Report states. “In addition to scanners, we recommend that a special independent Anti-Corruption Unit be established within the Customs and Excise department. Its responsibility will be to monitor, investigate and identify the activities of corrupt and rogue elements within the department.”

The report states, “It was represented to the Commission that corruption within the Police Service compromises its effectiveness and contributes to a loss of confidence in the Police Service among the public. The Police Service must put in place strategies and systems to counter corruption. The Commission recommends the establishment of a Unit specifically selected to monitor and investigate corruption within the security agencies generally.”

Sir David further calls for collaboration between intelligence agencies as well as their streamlining after an overall review of the system.

“It is important to involve the Prisons,” he also states. “Indeed, consideration should be given to making the Prisons an Intelligence Cell. Prisoners plan criminal activity from within the confines of a Prison and often disclose information about previous criminal activities during their incarceration.” The report calls for legislation to regulate joint police/army patrols.

“The Commission therefore recommends that, having regard to the changed nature of contemporary crime and security issues, there should be an analysis and evaluation of the role and function of the Defence Force to determine whether its role and function should not involve deeper collaboration with the civil power,” the Report states.

“No comprehensive legislation exists to provide for joint operations between the Military and the Police. It is vital that the circumstances under which, and the manner in which, the Military is empowered to act in aid of the civil power be clearly defined and legislated.”

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