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Lucky discusses police brutality with acting CoP
The use-of-force policy of the Police Service is under review by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams. This is in the wake of a growing number of complaints against police officers by members of the public, director of the Police Complaints Authority, Gillian Lucky has said. She said the number of live matters before the authority stood at just over 350, of which 60 to 70 per cent to date were complaints about unnecessary use of force by police officers.
Lucky was speaking at press conference held at the authority’s office at the Waterfront Complex in Port-of-Spain yesterday. Welcoming Williams’ suggestions and his presence, Lucky said the acting commissioner was “very much on board” with the authority’s recommendations. “These issues raised with Mr Williams were not new issues. When I met with the former police commissioner (Dwayne Gibbs) there was a lot of catching up that had to be done before we could get on the same page.
“I am not ill-speaking anybody who has left our jurisdiction. I am just saying it is a welcome change that much of what we raised today was already being addressed,” Lucky said. Lucky met with Williams for close to an hour yesterday to discuss several issues that the authority considered very important.
“The acting commissioner has taken on board the recommendations made by the authority to revisit the very policy which is part of a departmental order dated May 2011, and also to educate police officers about the provisions in this departmental order,” Lucky said. She said it was also accepted that it was one thing to have the provisions in writing but was more important to ensure that at the level of training, recruits were made aware of their practical implications.
The other matter raised centred on the findings in the High Court, in which no-case submissions were upheld after police officers were discovered to have been lying. The latest matter arouse in July, when three police officers were found guilty of violating the rights of Ijaz Bernadine and deliberately misleading a High Court judge in their evidence at trial.
“It is conduct which embodies the worst nightmares of law-abiding citizens—that they themselves or their families could be branded as criminals and treated as such and face the full force of agents of the State without recourse,” Justice Peter Rajkumar ruled then. “When there are findings that are averse to police officers, it is important that this information is not only transmitted to the commissioner, who in the main is responsible for promotion, but appropriate action is taken,” Lucky said.
She suggested that through the judiciary, there should be a person appointed who would forward such judgments to the authority. National Security Minister Jack Warner has also written to Lucky asking for the authority to investigate the matter. The use of CCTV in holding cells and in the charge rooms of police stations was also raised. “Many have been alleged to have committed suicide and families come out to say it wasn’t a suicide, but was some kind of impropriety on the part of the officers,” Lucky said.
She said Williams told her the design for the new police stations minimised the risk of suspects committing suicide. “It’s really about policing with a preventative approach. “Also, when exhibits go missing, that speaks to serious police misconduct, and police corruption,” Lucky said.
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