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Unite in fight against criminal ele
The funeral service for murdered prisons officer Glenford Gardner was yesterday used as a rallying cry for members of the Prison Service to unite against the criminal elements and for society to do likewise.
Acting Prisons Commissioner William Alexander called on his officers not to flee but to stay and fight back.
“To my officers, let us not run away, let us continue to run toward the challenge and embrace the responsibility we swore to uphold and show solidarity that will make us a force to be reckoned with,” Alexander said.
He said the country had evolved into an extremely violent society but officers must not allow fear to extinguish their hopes.
Alexander called on parents to take up their responsibilities and steer their children away from wrongdoing.
In his turn at the podium, General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association Gerard Gordon said it was only love that had prison officers doing their jobs daily.
Gordon said prison officers were a resilient bunch of “daredevils” who went into hostile environments with the hope of making a change in the lives of criminals.
He added that the death of Gardner, with whom he had graduated alongside, would embolden officers and they should come together since both their families and the nation were in need of prison officers “now more than ever”.
In delivering the homily at the Church of the Resurrection Anglican, Vineyard Road, Carenage, Fr Ashton Gomez said the country had degenerated into a violent society and it was the love of money that was fueling crime and criminality.
Gomez said prison officers should rekindle their passion for the job adding that they were hired to deal with the scourge of society. He asked them to remember that they had a dangerous job adding that no officer’s death should be in vain.
He described the country as being filled with spoilt children.
The problem, he said, was two-fold. Many had turned away from God and the love of money was fueling the criminal underworld, he said.
He told the mourners, including National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, that the majority of the population had become afraid of the minority that was the criminals.
He said the reason this was a lack of unity and called on those in the fight against criminals to become unified.
Gardner’s only child, Chelsea, who returned from studies in the US to bury her father, joked how he was her “walking encyclopedia” who always had an answer for the questions she posed.
She said no matter her age, she was always his little girl and that manifested itself in him appear ing to be over-protective.
Despite his large physical stature, she said, her father was a gentleman who was always smiling and entrepreneurial.
Gardner, 44, was killed on October 26, at one of his homes in Bagatelle, Diego Martin, 19 days after fellow prison officer Richard Sandy was shot dead by an ex-convict at a bar in South Trinidad.
Gardner was killed hours after the Remand Yard prison was searched and cellphones and other contraband were seized. Shortly after, a threat was made against officers supposedly by an inmate, that prison officers living in West Trinidad were to be killed as a result of the raid.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said the police were searching for the suspects in both killings and were fairly certain as to who was responsible for another recent non-fatal attack on a prison officer. It was also agreed that the application for firearm users’ licences by prison officers would be fast-tracked.