Last update: 01-Aug-2014 6:44 pm
Friday, August 01, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Give PCA more power
The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (Doma) says it is not opposed to the idea of the police meeting force with force. But it has also called for the Police Complaints Authority to be vested with greater powers, in light of the fact that there have been 26 police killings for the year to date. In a release issued yesterday, Doma said the criminal network seemed to be in possession of more sophisticated arms and ammunition, adding that police were operating in a dangerous environment.
However, Doma said it felt ”constrained to comment on what seems to be an increase in police killings in which grave discrepancies exist between official reports and the aggrieved comments of the family and friends and, most importantly, the eyewitnesses present when the killings take place.” It added that recent murders, including the assassination of prominent Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal and those of Jadel Holder, nine, and his 15-year-old brother, Jamal Brathwaite, highlighted the urgent need for successful law enforcement.
The brothers were shot once in the backs of their heads at their Morvant home. Doma said the Police Service needed public support and if officers were to succeed in protecting citizens, this required public trust and confidence.
“We can all admit this is unfortunately not very high at this time. In the interest of promoting this vital trust, we feel we should respectfully and forcefully make a public call for the vesting in the Police Complaints Authority of enhanced powers, including the power to subpoena and take evidence from witnesses under oath,” Doma said. It added that the silence of the national community on the discrepancies in police killings has created an “unfortunate perception” that the lives lost in depressed communities were not important.
“All human life is sacred and any failure to protect the lives of those who live in more difficult circumstances is an indictment against us that diminishes the value of our own lives and stains the conscience of all citizens,” Doma added.