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Senior officer tells cops: Wear bulletproof vests while on duty
The death of Sgt Hayden Manwaring should serve as a lesson to all police officers to be alert and wear their bulletproof vests while on duty, Supt Johnny Abraham said on Tuesday. “Let this serve to strengthen us so that we will deal with the criminals in a more decisive way,” Abraham declared. He added that Manwaring was a loyal and dedicated officer and an inspiration to his colleagues.
Manwaring and his colleague PC Nicholas Phillip were not wearing bulletproof vests when they were shot by bandits on Tuesday. Asked whether there was a shortage of bulletproof vests, Abraham said: “Not at all. Some police officers just never bothered to find the time to collect their protective gear.”
He said he issued a bulletin early Tuesday, reminding police officers to wear their vests. However, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association Sgt Anand Ramesar said the distribution of the vests was not as efficient as Abraham believed. “I don’t think this was the case in this particular situation, but I think Mr Abraham should know that it is not so easy to get a vest at the police stores,” Ramesar contended.
He said many officers chose not to wear them because they were uncomfortable. Suggesting that wearing bulletproof vests should be mandatory, Ramesar said the Police Uniform Committee had proposed a new uniform with a built-in vest. “The police association, through its uniform committee, is now introducing a new uniform, a police vest that is built into the police uniform, that takes into consideration the tropical climate,” he said.
“We understand the challenges with the vest.” Ramesar acknowledged that the Government was trying to outfit every officer with vests but said some had gone to collect vests only to find there were none. He also said the vests had a lifespan, and some officers were not wearing them because they offered no protection.
He said psychologists from the Victim Support Unit would provide help to Manwaring’s colleagues. He said the fallen officer will get a military funeral. Ramesar lauded National Security Minister Jack Warner for establishing the National Security Officers Foundation, which provides financial assistance to the family of fallen officers.
He also called on the authorities to put legislation in place to protect police from “spurious and vexatious” disciplinary action within recent times. “This has hindered police officers from being proactive and taking sufficient steps to protect themselves, instead of waiting to respond after a violent act is committed,” Ramesar said.
“This has had a psychological impact that destroyed performance in the Police Service.” He added that an independent body should be set up to investigate complaints against the police. Meanwhile, head of the Police Service Commission Prof Ramesh Deosaran expressed condolences to Manwaring’s family and said his death showed the violence and disregard for human life the country faced, including those responsible for law enforcement.
Deosaran said he hoped the death did not have a negative impact on police morale. Insp Harold Seedarie, a close colleague of the fallen lawman, said Manwaring was a dedicated officer who was transferred out of the Warrant Section and brought to the Criminal Investigations Department because of his good policing skills.
He said Manwaring always went the extra mile and had a good knowledge of how criminals operate in the underworld.
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