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CoP called to account
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has been summoned to an emergency meeting today with the Police Service Commission (PSC). The meeting is scheduled to take place at 11 am at the commission’s offices, Pasea Road, Tunapuna. The commission is chaired by Prof Ramesh Deosaran and includes Addison Khan, Martin George, Kenneth Parker and Jacqueline Cheeseman.
The group last met on January 31 and had discussed various issues, among them the procedure for advertising the post of commissioner of police. Sources say Williams’s presence was requested by the commission yesterday morning and it is expected he will be grilled about his crime initiatives and plans. As of yesterday, the murder toll stood at 61 for the year.
Other issues set to be tabled include reports about the Flying Squad being revived and police seeking redress via the courts over recent promotions. The news that the Flying Squad had been revived was exclusively reported in the T&T Guardian. Last week, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, presiding in the Port-of-Spain High Court, granted leave to 18 officers, all sergeants, to file a judicial review application.
They were bypassed for promotion and are challenging Williams’ decision. The officers wrote letters to the commission expressing displeasure over his inability to address the issue after they queried why they were bypassed, and the procedure used to select officers who were promoted. They also claimed the process used by Williams was biased. Last month the acting top cop and two of his deputies, Simon Alexis and Raymond Craig, were given a six-month acting extension.
Sources say on February 1, the commission wrote to various stakeholders asking them to take part in a survey rating the performance of Williams and his deputies. The survey became available online yesterday. Among the stakeholders who received the letter was the Police Social and Welfare Association. Contacted on the issue yesterday, association president Sgt Anand Ramesar said: “The association is aware of the survey and we will be participating.
“We endorse the efforts of the Police Service Commission to seek the views of the stakeholders in this important exercise. “For too long stakeholders such as ours would not have had the opportunity to give an input,” he added.
His colleague, PC Nicholas Phillip, 29, of Daisy Street, Siparia, also suffered a gunshot wound to his right forearm and a bullet graze to his head. He was said to be in a stable condition at hospital last night. The shooting triggered a massive lockdown of the south city as Southern, Central and South Western Division officers co-ordinated one of the biggest manhunts for the year. After four hours, all four suspects were arrested.
One suspect, of Tableland, was found covered in blood hiding in the corridors of Building One at Embacadere, San Fernando, around 5 pm, while another, of Princes Town, was nabbed close to the sea. The third suspect, also of Princes Town, was found sitting in a white SUV in the San Fernando General Hospital’s car park. The fourth was also captured at Embacadere around 6.30 pm.
A senior police officer said around 2 pm, Manwarring and a party of officers responded to a report of a robbery at Mom’s Diner on Cipero Street, San Fernando. A distress call was made but the thieves escaped in a white AD wagon. However, Manwarring’s team intercepted the getaway car close to Rahamut’s Service Station at Cross Crossing. Attendant Sham Sookram said, “The police put them (suspects) to lie down and then took them away.”
However, the officers reportedly followed more suspects at Padmore Street, where there was an exchange of gunfire. During this melee, one of the men wrestled away Manwarring’s gun and shot him in the chest. Phillip was also shot but managed to call for backup. The suspects then escaped from the vehicle. Senior Supt Cecil Santana mobilised troops and scores of police responded. They trudged through dense mangroves, the Embacadere dump and the Gulf of Paria shoreline at Kings Wharf, searching for the suspects.
The police helicopter also hovered while the city was on lockdown. Detectives also boarded the San Fernando water taxi and searched passengers. They later found a suspect at Building One, Embacadere. Police found one suspect lying on the ground covered in blood. As he was brought downstairs, with a T-shirt covering his face, one of the residents shouted, “Thank God they arrest him. Is one day for the police and one day for the thief.”
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