British High Commissioner Tim Stew
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Griffith: Experienced cops going to RRU
National Security Minister Gary Griffith has agreed to assign experienced officers to the Rapid Response Unit to patrol alongside the Special Reserve Police officers assigned to the unit. So said Inspector Michael Seales, secretary of the Police Second Division Association. He said members of the association and the minister met to sort out the matter and came to an agreement that regular police officers should manage the Rapid Response Unit, comprising SRPs.
The decision follows an incident where a Glencoe man, Naim Dean, was shot and killed on April 11 during a confrontation with police. Seales added: “Regular officers will also augment the RRU staff so it will not be a situation where inexperienced officers are the first responders. It was the association which suggested the idea as an interim measure. “The minister agreed and we applaud him for taking the bull by the horns and making such a tough decision.”
Seales said Griffith also welcomed the suggestion to re-evaluate the training SRPs received. “I am quite sure the minister would have put systems in place for simulations of real life situations RRU officers may encounter,” he said. The association, contending the killing of Dean happened because of a lack of proper training of the SRPs, demanded a ceasing of its operations and a re-evaluation of the training of its officers.
Griffith countered the RRU was one of the most successful police initiatives over the last ten years and said he would not shut down a whole unit over one incident. He agreed, however, that training of police officers across the board was needed. Police Association president Inspector Anand Ramesar, commenting yesterday on claims of the RRU’s success, said: “The minister might be right. There has not been much success with any police initiative over the last ten years.”
Ramesar said retired police officers who were brought back to head units “should stay home.” Asked why they should stay home, he said: “There are people to fill the positions and you are not seeing value for money.” Ramesar said the SRP Act did not allow SRPs to work independently of the T&T Police Service but as auxillary staff. “The association is very clear SRPs must be supervised by TTPS officers,” he said.
The SRPs were called out to form the units after Griffith said in November last year there was a shortage of police officers. Ramesar said there were now 7,000 police officers and 2,500 SRPs in the Police Service. “Together, this is the largest amount of officers ever in the history of T&T,” he added. Told of a regular complaints by members of the public that they were usually told there were not enough officers at a station to check out their reports, Ramesar said: “That’s a management issue.”