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Senior cops: SRP exam results — a sad state of affairs

WENDY CAMPBELL Thursday, August 28 2003

PAIN, and in some instances horror, was etched on the faces of some of the applicants who did not pass a dictation examination to enter the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) as Special Reserve Police (SRP) officers. Close to 13,000 applicants showed up at the nine police divisions across the country yesterday, but only about half of them heard their names.  Only the names of those who passed the dictation exercise were called. Senior officers told Newsday yesterday that it was a sad state, and it reflected the poor education system that the country has to work with. Some of the applicants who wrote the SRP dictation examination did not finish, others wrote two lines, some wrote nothing at all, while one individual got only one word —“Robbery” — correct.

That word was one of 138 the applicants had to spell.  The passage itself was chosen by Acting Commissioner of Police, Everald Snaggs.
The topic of the passage was the “Functions of Government,” which sought to explain the making of the country’s laws.  The passage was sourced from the Module in Social Studies with School Based Assessment (SBA) Guide and CXC questions, and was placed on page 105. The book was written by Rampersad Ramsawak and Rev Ralph R Umraw. Reports from all nine Divisions show that just under 50 percent of the applicants passed the dictation exercise which was supposed to have been read three times to the applicants, some of whom included retired police officers. However, some of them complained that the passage was read only once, and that they could not hear the PA system. Others said that the words were “too hard” and that they had lots of trouble with the word “chaos.”

At the Barataria Junior Secondary School, some of the unsuccessful applicants asked to repeat the exam. They were blanked. One of the unsuccessful applicants, Merlicia Bibby, 23, said she was totally shocked at the results.  She said she wrote dictation exercises for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard as well as the Defence Force. “I passed them both, but I don’t know what went wrong this time” Bibby said.  She added that she may have missed out a “t” in the word “committed,” and that she probably spelt “chaos” incorrectly.  While she did not want to say it outright, Bibby said she believed she might have been cheated. “I will just have to apply for a job elsewhere,” she ended. Bibby was one of 706 who sat the dictation exercise in the North Eastern Division which includes areas such as Morvant, Barataria and San Juan. Of those 706, 320 passed. There were other complaints from other  applicants some of whom claimed there was nepotism and bribery involved in the exams.  One individual who asked not to be identified, said they were made to understand that some of the applicants were “already inside.”

Yesterday, Police Association President, acting Insp Christopher Holder said the results were expected, since most of the applicants are unemployed, unskilled and are away from reading and writing. “Society is the social manufacturer of the citizens we enlist in the Police Service,” Holder said.  He explained that if one is in a positive environment, positive things will happen, and a similar situation will occur if the situation is reversed. Those who passed the dictation exercise filled out registration forms yesterday and relevant documents, including birth certificate and recommendations were checked.  The next step for them is likely to be a thorough medical examination, for which a date has not yet been set. The Police Service is looking for 1000 additional officers as part of Minister of National Security Howard Chin Lee’s fight against crime.

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