In 1992, then Prime Minister Patrick Manning brought Scotland Yard officials to this country to investigate whether there was a drug cartel operating in the Police Service.
That allegation was made by then Assistant Commissioner of Police, Rodwell Murray. The British cops never settled in Trinidad as they got hell from elements within the Police Service. Manning thought that then Commissioner of Police Jules Bernard was attempting to block the Yardies and he tried to have him retired in the public’s interest.
Well, that failed. For the very first time, police officers marched around the Red House as a form of protest in 1993. No disciplinary action was taken against that march. Arising out of the Yardies’ investigations, several police officers were arrested and charged, (not as a result of the allegations of a drug cartel) and they were all freed. The Yardies returned to Britain frustrated at not completing their assignment.
On Friday, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley revealed that British experts have been contracted to conduct a manpower audit of the Police Service in Trinidad and Tobago.
At the handover of the new St Joseph Police Station, Rowley said the audit was necessary to understand how resources are currently used and if they can be redeployed to more effective use.
He said as Opposition Leader he sent Fitzgerald Hinds, a former police officer, to Fairfax County in Virginia, USA, to see how policing was done and he discovered that, in a city with as many people as Trinidad and Tobago, there were far less police per capita than this country.
He added, “Our per capita of policemen per 100,000 is well above the international average and well above the Caribbean average, so it might very well not be a shortage of officers on the job or on the payroll. So what is the question? It might very well be, as some police officers will tell you, not enough cars or not enough this or that. You try to solve that and it cannot be solved by us giving every policeman a car,” he said.
“We have thought that one of the things that are required is a proper, across the board assessment of what is our police manpower and how are they deployed and how can they be redeployed under the current circumstances to get the best of that. And it is against that background we approached the British to help us with a comprehensive manpower audit.”
Dr. Rowley appealed to the Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, his senior officers and Second Division officers to cooperate fully with the British when the exercise is executed.
The Prime Minister added, “It is not enough for us to keep throwing things like money or equipment into poor institutional arrangements. If there is a requirement for institutions to be adjusted to be reconstructed so the resources that are put in there can give the beneficial outcome then we should be sufficiently open minded, sufficiently driven to want to make those changes.”
He was again critical of the delay in hiring a full-time Commissioner of Police.
“I am particularly disturbed and sometimes on the border of depression that the Government that I lead is being held responsible for the ineffective security of the state that exists now but then feels totally powerless in making the known and visible changes that should be made to ensure that our police service becomes as effective as it can be.
“I think it is quite unacceptable at the personal level of acting Commissioner Williams, at the police divisional level to have a situation where we cannot appoint a substantive Commissioner of Police. I think that is completely unacceptable,” he added.
Dr. Rowley also called for increased screening of police recruits in light of reports of police engaging in criminal activities.
“We need to review the arrangements by which persons enter the police service. Persons have to be thoroughly screened to ensure that you don’t include into these privileged ranks, persons for whom the police service is simply a place to earn a salary or worse to conduct that is inimical to the interests of the national community,” he said.
He said the Acting Commissioner has been empowered by Cabinet to root out those found by him to be unsuitable for the positions they hold.