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PM’s adviser backs Jack’s ‘soldier plan’
National Security Adviser in the Office of the Prime Minister Gary Griffith is in support of precepting soldiers.
In a two-page media release yesterday, Griffith, a former captain in the army said: “It is either we want the Defence Force to support the police in providing the deterrent and enhance the manpower strength in the streets to reduce crime or we do not.”
Referring to the situation as “a delicate yet mandatory one at this time,” Griffith said the public continues to call for joint army and police patrols, “a measure which is already in place.”
However, he said the soldiers “need to be provided with the necessary teeth to increase the effectiveness of the joint patrols by having the power of arrest.”
He added: “It is totally unacceptable to have soldiers patrol the street and they are asked to provide the deterrent, but in the same breath, the only authority bestowed upon them is equivalent to a citizen’s arrest.”
Dismissing concerns by dissenters as “illogical,” Griffith pointed out the role and function of a soldier were varied and included protecting the nation from foreign invasion and during natural disasters, as well as aiding civil power which would include supporting the police and maintaining democratic institutions.
Responding to concerns expressed by some police officials that soldiers were trained “killing machines,” Griffith said that statement was unacceptable because if that was the case, “then it means that there is no use for an army during times of peace.”
Denouncing statements that 23 people arrested by soldiers during the 2011 state of emergency had to be released, Griffith said many others arrested by the police were also released.
In comparison, Griffith said: “There are thousands of civilians in the private security industry who have the same power of precept and power of arrest and not once have we ever heard from those voicing their concern for soldiers to get the same authority.
“The only difference is that soldiers are much more trained than private security guards and receive such training on a more frequent basis than civilians who are private security guards and carry a firearm, provide patrol duties and have powers of arrest and are precepted.
“The exact training that is provided for civilians to become security officers in the private security industry and what authorises these same private security guards to have powers of arrest, is the exact training that the soldiers would be receiving prior to being precepted with the powers of arrest being bestowed thereafter.”
He said if civilians are offered this type of training and authority to effect arrests, then why should highly trained soldiers be denied the same?
Pointing out not all soldiers will receive powers of arrest, Griffith said those earmarked were already Regiment police and the precept power could be a temporary measure to be taken away when it was no longer required.
“The citizens require some measure of manpower strength in the streets and this can only be fulfilled by the Army, complementing and supporting the police, and they cannot and should not be doing so unless they are bestowed with the powers of arrest which equates with what private security guards presently have,” Griffith added.
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