As the world celebrated Earth Day yesterday, members of the National Council of Orisha Elders in T&T marked the occasion with a march through San Fernando praying for an end to violence.
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Ramesar: Gibbs’ police uniforms stored in Arima warehouse
The $549,900 worth of police uniforms purchased by former commissioner of police Dwayne Gibbs for local cops are stored in an Arima warehouse.
But these uniforms will never see the light of day for adoption by the T&T Police Service.
President of the Police Social and Welfare Association Inspector Anand Ramesar said on Thursday that the 300 police uniforms remain “unused and stashed away in a businessman’s warehouse in Tumpuna Road, Arima, which the police service has been renting for a while.”
Ramesar said the warehouse which was rented at $100,000 per month for three years also housed other items for the police service.
The uniforms brought in by Gibbs were rejected outright by members of the association who saw it as “undesirable to wear, not so much in terms that it was a new uniform, but moreso its unsuitability for our environment, the design, colour, it smacked of neo-Colonialism, members were not consulted and did not appeal to them,” Ramesar said.
The move to change the police uniform was part of the 21st Century Policing initiative put forward by Gibbs. However, Gibbs’ plan drew heavy criticism from the association.
Gibbs’ initiative was also scrapped by Jack Warner when he became minister of National Security.
The three new designs—for daytime duties, night duties and tactical—which were chosen by the association and its members are not only expected to be tactical and practical but also fashionably modern.
New police equipment and gear
Ramesar said the association planned to upgrade every piece of equipment that would improve the efficiency of its members, and would introduce utility belts or rigs to this effect.
These belts have pouches to store the various equipment used by officers such as expandable batons, handcuffs, flashlights, radios, knives, holsters and ammunition.
The retention holster was designed to keep the police officer’s service weapon locked in place and to defeat unauthorised gun grabs.
He said many police officers spent their own money on holsters and personal gear.
As a result of this, they were not able to afford the best quality equipment.
Ramesar said once there was a uniform with the necessary features to carry the best equipment, the association would be moving to lobby for it.
The duty belt also had provisions to carry tasers and pepper spray which were long overdue.
He said it was legal for police officers to use them.
Ramesar said the association hadn’t encountered a CoP willing to implement the less-lethal devices, despite the police service having purchased many tasers in store and having already trained and certified more than 100 police officers to use them.
He said even the shoes that they now wore were uncomfortable and made their feet sweat.
No copyright infringement on US Marines uniforms
When asked if there was a risk of copyright infringement with respect to the digital urban tri-colour camouflage pattern they chose that is similar to the US marines’ BDU (battle dress uniform), Ramesar said the uniform came from US police uniform and equipment manufacturer, Blauer Manufacturing Co who had authority over it.
The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) and its distinctive camouflage pattern, MARPAT, are exclusive to the Marine Corps, which holds the patents to their design.
In response to whether a local company can manufacture the uniforms at a cheaper price, Ramesar said he did not know whether local companies had the expertise or experience to embed security features into the uniforms.
He said the association held no briefs for any manufacturer and expected the Government to utilise proper procurement practices to secure a suitable supplier.
Griffith: cops will look good, feel good and do good policing
When contacted on Thursday, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said that he was heavily involved in the selection process of the new uniforms from day one.
He said if police officers looked and felt good in the new uniforms, they would psychologically perform better in their duties.
Griffith said: “The new uniforms will change the whole mindset of the police officers and they’re also more comfortable, while the present uniform gave the perception of a Colonial aspect.
“The colour, material, and properties will allow them to perform different operations using minimum use of force with the less-lethal options such as batons, tasers, pepper spray and if the situation escalates the firearm.”
He said transforming the police service did not mean just changing the training or policies, but also its image. Griffith said this had an important part to play in getting the public to have a different perception of the police service.
He said transforming the image would entail putting heavy emphasis on public relations and customer service training.
Griffith said it also reflected a move to another era, a brand new police service, with a new image, a totally new identity and look.
Griffith said under the transformational policies they would have a new operational plan based on guidance from the New York Police Department, proper training facilities that will be provided will enhance their capabilities.
Griffith said by improving the officers' training would assist them in the performance of their duties in all aspects of policing from road blocks, cordon and search, crime scene investigation and other aspects of law enforcement.