Duke shuts down City Police Dept
By RACHAEL ESPINET Friday, July 18 2014
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DILAPIDATED: ASP Videsh Harrilal, left, and Ag Supt Glen Charles show two female colleagues of the PoS City Police a dilapidated mattress in the dormi...
PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke yesterday shut down the Port-of-Spain City Corporation’s Police Department citing health and safety infractions and vowing that no court ordered injunction will shut him up.
Police officers and public health inspectors working at the corporation have vowed not to enter their workplace at City Hall on Knox Street until the corporation responds to complaints about conditions at work.
“Until further notice, the Port-of-Spain City Police will not continue to work in that unsafe environment where the building is structurally unsound. Until further notice from today the public health inspectors who have such important jobs also will not be working in that building until those issues are rectified.
“We say to the public and those persons who are affected, that this could end tomorrow, or this evening. All we are asking for is the validation that the building is safe,” Duke said. Attempts to contact Mayor of Port-of-Spain Raymond Tim Kee for a comment proved futile. Newsday was able to reach Deputy Mayor Keron Valentine but he declined to comment as he said he was in Tobago yesterday.
Duke and officers of the City Police gave the media a tour of the dilapidated offices. Issues include cramped and dilapidated offices and a dormitory where ceiling tiles frequently fall.
“From the time you enter the City Police area there are tiles that have been stuck on the roof of the building that have been dislodged and are falling on a daily basis hitting employees on their heads. Workers are now forced to wear helmets whenever they come to work,” Duke said.
He added that officers have to sleep on dirty and damaged mattresses and most of the air-conditioning units in the sleeping quarters do not work.
He also complained that there is one holding cell for prisoners but it has no bathroom and an officer said that prisoners frequently urinate and defecate in the holding cell. Duke said there were originally two cells but the one for female prisoners was turned into a store room.
Duke slammed Mayor Tim Kee for occupying a building which has a newly built office for the mayor, but has workers in an “unsafe” work space. Duke said the new addition to the City Hall building is unsafe and does not comply with Town and Country Planning regulations. “This building is resting on (an) old and shaky foundation. The area on which the mayor built his penthouse was known for leaking within the entire building. Without any proper reinforcement, they simply covered it and erected a complete structure on the roof,” Duke said.
He is demanding that the corporation provide proof of Town and Country Planning approval for the addition, a report from the corporation’s structural engineers about the building and the addition, and a certificate from the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service stating that the building is safe for occupation.
Duke said the PSA will not be deterred in its fight for a safe workplace for its members.
“Call for injunctions as much as you want, we are not going to be obeying any injunction as far as health and safety is concerned! They have a mandate in so far as reasonable practice for the safety, health and welfare of all its employees. Today we are declaring zero tolerance on Port-of-Spain City Corporation in so far as our City Police are concerned and public health (inspectors) are concerned, and soon, the entire staff within this corporation,” Duke said.