Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams admitted on Wednesday that 150 rogue police officers are off the roster, having been charged with some kind of criminal offense.
But he urged the public to keep the faith in the Police Service as he promised to root out all rogue officers. He made the call even as an officer, SRP Sean Joseph, appeared in court on Wednesday, charged with the robbery of two Chinese businessmen last Thursday night.
Williams admitted that the Police Service’s reputation had been tarnished by recent incidents in which police officers have been accused of committing crimes.
“Today I want to give the public the assurance that the TTPS is staffed with a majority of officers who are honest, law-abiding and committed to fulfilling their obligations and oath in the noble profession of policing.
“Instances like these will be the exception and we will be doing everything possible to minimize the recurrence of events like the one,” Williams added. He said that all allegations made against police officers were treated seriously and that those accused were not given favorable treatment.
The acting top cop added, “The TTPS will take a tough approach to any criminal conduct which is alleged against any police officer. The public is vesting trust in the TTPS and we must do nothing to undermine this. Clear decisive and timely action will be taken in every case to remove what we can describe as the rogue element from the Police Service.”
Williams said over the past four years, 150 officers, varying in rank from constable to Assistant Commissioner of Police had been suspended by the TTPS after being charged with criminal offenses, including murder, misbehavior in public office, perverting the course of public justice, sedition, assault and driving under the influence.
On the issue of last week’s robbery, Williams said preliminary investigations showed that the group of men responsible for the crime was not all police officers.
“I don’t want us to go away with the assumption that all that you have seen in that video are police officers,” he said, as he referred to a short video of CCTV footage of the incident which has been broadcast on social media websites.
The video clip clearly shows a group of men, dressed in what appear to be police uniforms, arriving at the businessman’s Claxton Bay home in a police vehicle.
Asked about the impact of social media in assisting the police in solving crimes, Williams encouraged citizens to post videos of suspicious activity and crimes.
“We have no objection to the citizens putting videos they have recorded on social media but we would want them to provide the TTPS with as much assistance as possible,” he said.
However, he said as a result of the incident, the TTPS had amended the protocols for police officers conducting raids and executing search warrants.
“We will enure that police raids and searches are not conducted by police officers without visible police uniform. That will assist us in ensuring that the citizens out there do not facilitate anyone just saying police.
“Whoever comes must be in police uniform and must provide some feedback in terms of ID. Police officers are supposed to carry ID cards and that can be demanded by a citizen,” Williams said.
As he renewed calls to citizens to partner with the police in the future, Williams said citizens would be protected through the witness protection program if they provided tips and information to police:“There is no perfect solution. We have to build back the confidence and trust and the only way we can do that is by showing that we eliminate incidents with police officers and be tough and timely with it. But if we eliminate these incidents, it will get us closer to the point of the citizens recognizing that anyone coming to their home dressed in police uniform can be trusted,” he said.