Approximately 500 police officers in the T&T Police Service (TTPS) are currently on suspension and sick leave.
This was revealed yesterday by National Security Minister Stuart Young at a Standing Committee Meeting into the Police Service in Parliament.
Joined by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, Young was first asked how he intended to decrease the TTPS staggering overtime bill which was estimated at $300 million in 2018, but the service spent $366 million.
The TTPS is planning to spend $311 million for the next fiscal year, a decrease of $55 million.
Young said in the past couple months, there has been an overview of overtime, while discrepancies had been discovered.
Notwithstanding that, Young said "audit measures" have been put in place to decrease the bill.
“If there was in fact this inflation and there is a strong belief and evidence to support that there was an inflation of the overtime figures,” Young said, when asked by Opposition MP Rodney Charles how he intended to lower the TTPS’ increasing overtime bill.
In giving a breakdown on the current manpower of the Police Service , Young said are 7,200 officers in the service, with an additional 3,100 SPRs.
The sanctioned strength of the TTPS is 7,884, resulting in a shortfall of 684 officers.
Of the 10,300 officers, Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan queried how many officers have not been working.
Young said to his knowledge “about 500 are not actively working.”
The 500, Young said, are those on suspension and sick leave.
Young said Griffith had recently asked the TTPS to give details as to how many officers have been on suspension, the nature of the suspensions and for how long.
He said 6,694 officers and 1,977 SRPs can be placed on duty.
“Then out of that there is about a 15 per cent who are on leave at any given point in time outside of the suspension, sick leave and vacation leave and these types of things.” The 15 per cent, Young said, represents 1,000 officers.
“So you have about 6,000 officers now out of the 7,200,” Rambachan said, as he tried to give a realistic figure as how many officers would be on active duty on two or three eight-hour shifts.
Young said some branches of the service such as GEB and Special Branch may work 24 hours.
Rambachan said there was a feeling by citizens that when you call a police station for assistance “we don’t have policemen available. And I am trying to establish really how many police officers are on active duty on a shift? And it cannot be 7,000.”
Young said he was told that between 1,600 to 2,000 would not be on duty.
“So now you come down to 4,400 officers,” Rambachan replied.
“Is it that the country at any one point in time manned by an equivalent of about 2,200 to 2,500 police on a shift,” Rambachan further questioned, to which Young replied, “yes.”
Young said there are operational arms in the service who can be called out in emergencies cases.
With crime growing out of control, Rambachan suggested that precepted officers in the T&T Defence Force can be utilised to supplement the TTPS to make it more functional, but Young turned down his suggestion.