Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams says former minister in the Ministry of National Security Collin Partap may yet be prosecuted for failing to take a breathalyser test. Williams made the comment while speaking at yesterday’s weekly police press briefing, held at the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port-of-Spain. “I would confirm there is a possibility for the then Minister Partap to be charged for the offence,” he said. He noted that there was an ongoing investigation into the controversial incident after which the file will be presented to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard for his consideration as to possible criminal charges for Partap.
According to confirmed reports, shortly after 3 am on Sunday, Partap’s vehicle was stopped by three police officers who asked him to submit to a breathalyser test. Partap reportedly refused and was arrested and taken to the Belmont Police Station, where he later took the test in Williams’ presence. After the incident, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced, late last Sunday, that Partap’s appointment would be revoked. While addressing media personnel yesterday, Williams confirmed an earlier statement issued by Nation Security Minister Jack Warner, which said Partap contacted Williams on Sunday morning complaining of a confrontation with a group of police officers. Warner, in his release, described Partap’s request for Williams’ presence at the police station as “injudicious, unnecessary and inappropriate.” Williams, like Warner, dismissed Partap’s assertion, saying: “The officers, from my assessment, conducted themselves in a professional manner that we expect police officers to conduct themselves.”
He also defended his presence at the station that morning on Partap’s request. “Taking into context the time of the morning and taking into context the day of the week and all the circumstances, I decided to proceed to Port-of-Spain to address the matter,” he said. “As commissioner, I have access to every single police building. As the commissioner I am responsible for taking decisions as I see fit which are within the law and reasonable...In my opinion the action taken by me was reasonable.” Williams sought to clarify earlier reports, noting that there was one-hour gap between Partap’s arrest and when he submitted to the breathalyser test.
He revealed that Partap was allowed to leave the station after his test showed a result of 28 microgrammes of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath which was well below the legal alcohol limit of 35 microgrammes. Williams said before Partap was allowed to leave the station he was told his original refusal to take the test would be investigated. “The investigation is ongoing. It should be completed within the shortest period of time, recognising that there is great interest by the media,” Williams said. When quizzed about Partap being in possession of his cellphone even after his arrest, Williams said this was not a breach of proper police procedure.