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Police Association secretary to Independents: Vote against Defence Bill
Sgt Michael Seales, the secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association, is calling on Independent senators to step up to the plate and vote against the Defence (Amendment) Bill. The bill was passed in Parliament last Friday with the Government prevailing by a margin of 29 to the PNM’s 11. On Wednesday evening, police officers held a candlelight vigil on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain, but their planned vigil did not get the permission of acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
In an interview after their meeting with Williams yesterday at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, Seales said members of the Defence Force agreed with them against the bill. He said: “Our view, as the association, is that we must appeal to Independent senators to use their independence to make a decision that is consistent with good sense.
“They need to understand this can negatively impact the Police Service and not only the Police Service but also members of the Defence Force.” He added: “The Police Service is not isolated in this context. We had calls from members of the Defence Force who indicated to us that we (soldiers) don’t have a voice but we want you (police association) to express our concerns.
“It is the first military organisation that is coming under a civilian body. “That is something they did not contemplate but how the legislation would have morphed, through its presentation and deliberation, we realise it now comes actuality for them in terms of reality. “In this context we don’t have that voice and we must echo their sentiments,” Seales added.
President of the association, Sgt Anand Ramesar, said the meeting was successful with Williams. However, he added, he understood the role he had to play. “The meeting today had a lot to do with the membership and the prayer gathering yesterday and we were able to meet on common ground with Williams in terms of how we go forward with issues dealing with both of us,” he said.
The meeting had improved the relationship with members of the association, Ramesar said. “We have concerns about the bill. We do not support it. We are sure it will have a negative impact on the Police Service and we also are concerned about how it will impact on members of the Defence Force. lt has emasculated them (soldiers), “ he said.
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