"Ill-advised and precipitous."
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon has given the green light for the Police Service to absorb between 1,500 to 2,000 Special Reserve Police officers (SRPs). So said president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Anand Ramesar in an interview yesterday.
Ramesar said the decision was taken during Wednesday’s meeting with Dillon which included the association and other members of the protective services, including the Fire Services Association and the Prisons Association. But the increase, Ramesar said, would not necessarily mean an increase in the sanctioned strength of the Police Service which is approximately 7,500 officers.
He said most of the SRPs worked full time and their absorption would fill the vacancies left behind by those officers who had gone on leave.
“The SRPs should have been absorbed quite a while ago because there are persons who would have made between five to 20 years and still functioning as SRPs and to date they have not experienced any proper terms and condition of employment,” Ramesar said.
In April last year, a directive was given for the recruitment of SRPs be put on immediate hold. Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams had said that was critical because the Police Service needed to intensify background checks of prospective candidates to ensure undesirables did not infiltrate the service.
“I need to ensure that I am selecting the right people for not only entering the SRP but also the Police Service.
“I must ensure the Police Service has people of good character and meet all the necessary requirements, not just some.
We need people of integrity and these characteristics must meet the necessary endorsement of the citizens of this land,” Williams had said. His statements had come in the wake of several SRPs appearing before the court to face a number of serious criminal offences.
Asked about these concerns Ramesar said a stringent criteria would be implemented to weed out the good from the bad. “Every organisation has persons who have been involved in criminal behaviour and at the Police Service we are no different.
“But a selection criteria would definitely not be one that would allow the inclusion of anybody who has criminal history or tendencies. The criteria would determine the persons who should be rewarded the decision to be absorbed. It is not just going to be willy-nilly,” Ramesar added. He said the association was expected to hold several meetings throughout the country with the SRPs as there may be some who would not want to be absorbed.
The first stakeholder meeting is expected to be held in Toruba. At the end of five weeks, Ramesar said, the meetings would be completed after which the association would then meet with Williams.
On the issue of millions of dollars in back pay owed to police officers, Ramesar said officers who had given Government until the end of this month to pay the money were now forced to wait until June. But he said if nothing was paid by June as promised by Dillon then officers, whose morale was already low, may take certain action.
“If June comes and there is no back pay as promised by the Government then the Government runs the risk of a state of unhealthiness in the Police Service and they would have nobody but themselves to blame.
“I am clear in my mind they should not have promised June if they can’t make June so now they must make June. We trust that the Government is not misleading us,” Ramesar added.
BECOMING A SRP
In order to become an SRP, one should have at least three ‘O’ Levels, a valid driver’s permit and be at least 18 years old. An SRP is a part time officer who works in four-hour shifts, called tours. An SRP has to fulfill 40 tours a month Training lasts for eight weeks, with four weeks focusing on theory and the other four weeks focused on more practical training (at the Police Training Academy).
Salary begins at $4,000.—Source T&T Police Service website