Two days after UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen told the Senate that there were 32 police killings in the North-Eastern Division alone, the Police Service has responded by saying that the Senator got his figures wrong.
Addressing members of the media at Wednesday’s weekly briefing, public relations officer for the Police Service, acting ASP Michael Pierre, said for the period January 2011 to October 26, 2016, there were 27 police killings in that division.
Ramdeen had made the statement during his contribution to the budget debate at the Senate sitting last Monday.
In giving a breakdown of police killings, Pierre said the highest rate of police-involved homicides occurred in 2014 with 45 killings being recorded.
But this was reduced by 58 percent in 2015 with 19 recorded.
For the year to date, there were 18 killings. The latest being the killing of Adelle Gilbert, 34, who was shot dead at Carlton Lane housing project in San Fernando on October 20.
A Facebook video of police taking away Gilbert’s body sparked outrage on social media and prompted two separate investigations by the Police Service and the Police Complaints Authority.
Saying the Police Service had taken note of the comments stemming from Gilbert’s killing, Pierre assured the organisation still had a good relationship with members of the public as vital information continued to be passed on to officers on a daily basis resulting in the seizure of narcotics and guns.
Gilbert’s killing has also reinforced calls by the Police Service Social and Welfare Association and the Police Complaints Authority for officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
Pierre said a pilot project was launched last month where officers of the Central Divisional Task Force were outfitted with body cameras.
“Although we generally take a serious view of all activities of police officers, especially those involving shootings and serious misconduct, the use of body-worn cameras is different because of the potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers and alternatively as a protection to the police officer against false accusations that may be made by members of the public,” Pierre said.
The project is expected to last six months following which the pros and cons would be examined.
In 2011, however, the figure was also high as there were 40 police killings.
Pierre said to date there were 23 files before the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for review and direction.
These files represented the 2014 period.
Pressed as to how many files were submitted for the five-year period in total and a breakdown of the other years regarding files sent to the DPP, Pierre said he did not have those figures.
He also could not say how many officers have been charged during the five-year period from 2011 to 2016 but he said some of the police killings had been referred to a coroner’s inquest.