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Guns for Prisons Officers?

Published: 
Monday, October 30, 2017

It’s a life-and-death subject as to whether prisons officers should be allowed to carry firearms outside work just as how some police officers do.

If we are to use comparative logic, if some police officers can do it, why not some prison officers?

The fact is, hundreds of prison officers interact daily with convicted criminals as well as inmates on remand, the latter, are presumed innocent until guilty. Further, there will be some on remand who will definitely become convicted criminals. As well, some on remand would have also been previously convicted as criminals, served their sentence and are now back again on another charge.

Many of the hardcore criminals of today are not afraid of anyone. They will kill for a small fee or for a minor reason. (I’m not talking about petty criminals here.)

It’s clear that some prisons officers are under attack by some current and/or ex-prisoners. (There will be some prisons officers who are on the wrong side of the law and thus put themselves at certain risks.) But what about the law-abiding officers? How can they or their families be protected? Whose responsibility really is it?

They are doing a job for the state. Should the state protect them? They can’t be all placed in safe houses, etc. Will giving them their own guns help keep them and their families safe? It may work for some but not for all instances.

But the strong argument they have is—if police officers have it, why not us and we are being targeted and killed probably more than the police. What are the figures of police vs prison officers killed in the last 10 to 15 years? The Prison Officers Association said 17 of their number were killed in the last 15 years. Now, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Social and Welfare Association should give their figures too.

But figures aside, we really need a solution to help the prisons officers. One innocent officer killed is one too many!

Can the authorities say whether there is currently a system in place for at-risk officers to be offered access to such guns? Or, is it that the Prison Association is seeking gun access for all officers? The public needs to know their position.

We now look forward to hearing official word from the Government as to whether its policy will change or not, and why. Also, the opposition’s views are welcome. We should also gather the opinions of the public on this as they ought not to be left out the consultative process in a democratic society.

IAN RAMDHANIE,
PRINCIPAL, CARIBBEAN INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY

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