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DUI Task Force spread across T&T

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Senior police officers are dismissing claims that the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Task Force has been disbanded following a controversial arrest they made late last year.

Rather, they claim the unit, responsible for over 5,000 tests resulting in 773 arrests for the year, has been scattered across the the country to better use the resources.

However, DUI Task Force members, under the condition of anonymity, claim this was done to punish the unit. Officers said following the arrest of an individual last year the unit was broken up and the members placed in various divisions to continue their duties along with other officers during road block exercises.

Officers from the unit, who said on average they arrested over 10 people during a nightly exercise, now detain one or two errant drivers a night.

This is because they are now tasked with “regular police work,” resulting in them going out on patrols and other duties outside of conducting field sobriety tests on drivers.

In an telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, ASP Kissoon Badloo, of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch, under which the unit operated, said the decision to integrate the officers from the Task Force into the various police stations came before the arrest of the individual.

He added that while some may believe the two are related it is not.

Speaking in defence of the operational move, Badloo said while some might argue that there is a decline in the number of DUI arrests, that could easily be debated without providing any statistics.

Badloo added that the officers are also focused on doing volunteer tests so that drivers know their limit even before they drive and this preventative measure is being applauded.

He added that with the introduction of the speed guns, the emphasis has shifted from intoxicated drivers to speedsters.

The decision to re-arrange the structure of the unit is under the purview of Deputy Police Commissioner Deodath Dulalchan. But attempts to contact him yesterday were unsuccessful, as calls to his mobile went unanswered and messages sent were not responded to.

President of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Insp Michael Seales, also could not be reached for comment.


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