In a New Year message to the nation, the non-governmental organisation Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) wants the protective services to adhere to the highest standards especially when dealing with the public. “The relevant authorities must ensure that people who work in our protective services are trustworthy and honest in their dealings with the public. Otherwise no real dent will be made in the fight against crime and lawlessness in our society,” the group said in a media release yesterday.
Speaking on behalf of CBTT, chairman Harrack Balramsingh says that they believe that lack of trust is one of the major reasons why many serious crimes are not reported to the police. “One of our New Year’s resolutions should be to demand that persons employed to protect and serve citizens gain the faith and confidence of the national community.” This, he feels is one of the major ways to apprehend perpetrators and bring them to justice in a timely fashion.
“At the moment,” Balramsingh said, “too many citizens have lost faith in the very people who claim to protect and serve them. However,” he stated, “credit must go to the many decent and respectable officers within the service. He however lamented that on too many occasions their work was hampered by rogue officers, some of whom he alleges now occupy senior positions.
Balramsingh pointed out that for the past 20 years CBTT volunteers had been receiving complaints from citizens about corruption and other criminal activities by police officers. “But unfortunately people don’t report these matters because they claim that they cannot trust these crooked cops. That’s why,” he added, “so many officers are still in the service even though they have committed serious crimes. It is not uncommon for some of them to be promoted and praised as model police officers,” he said.
“It is going to be a very difficult task to get rid of these crooked cops because citizens are too afraid to report them even to senior officials because, sadly, they don’t feel their report will always be safe,” he noted. “That is why,” he added, “faith and confidence must be restored in the police service so that a real dent can be made against criminals.
Balramsingh stated that the recent Stacy Ramdeen incident in which a Caroni housewife mysteriously died during a police raid did no good to the image of the police service because serious allegations against some officers involved in her death were not investigated promptly by the authorities.