Since December 29, 2010, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has received a total of 2,139 complaints against police officers.
And according to the T&T Police Service, between 2012 and 2016 the Police Service suspended over 150 officers from the rank of constable to assistant commissioner, while 63 officers are currently facing charges before the court.
Of the 2139 complaints before the PCA, 1,279 are still being actively investigated, 254 of those officers are currently facing legal action before the courts, and 606 investigations have been completed. According to statistics provided by the PCA, between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, there were 230 allegations of criminal offences, and 442 allegations of disciplinary offences. A total of 674 offences were identified.
Head of Corporate Communications in the Police Service, Ellen Lewis, said the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB), which has internal responsibility for investigating allegations of wrongdoing levelled against officers, had been mandated by the Commissioner of Police to pursue matters involving officers without fear or favour. "What the public had been witness to of late is the PSB discharging its duty. The public therefore ought to be comforted by the purposeful action of the CoP to purge the service of rogue elements as we strive to earn the public's trust and improve police legitimacy."
While the figures represent a potential decrease of bad cops in the service, confidence and trust in police officers remain low at a time when the population is grappling with rising murders and a prevalence in missing people, rapes and robberies. Citizens question the competence and integrity of officers almost daily, based on frequent public complaints.
On October 5, Jeanette Ramsahai made a report to the PCA regarding her son Josiah and allegations that he was being harassed by a police officer.
In the last few lines of the report, Ramsahai asked several questions. "What should I do? Should I wait and have to bury my son?" On November 18, Ramsahai got her answer.
Her son Josiah was shot, in what police claimed was a shoot-out with officers. She buried him days later.
On October 20, Adele Gilbert was killed in an alleged shoot-out with officers in San Fernando but witnesses claim that Gilbert had no gun.
Police have since opened an investigation into the matter. Both Ramsahai and Gilbert's relatives are claiming unlawful acts by police officers, further adding to the lack of confidence in police, who have been charged with robbery and SRP's who have abused citizens.
With police officers being accused of and charged with offences ranging from dangerous driving and possession of marijuana to money laundering and murder, the public continues to find reasons not to trust police officers.
Public justified...but cops are now reporting cops�Seales
"It is understandable when trust is shaken based on circumstances that meet media attention," says President of the Police Social and Welfare Association Michael Seales.
In an interview last week, Seales said the public was justified when it came to the issue of trust in police officers. When those circumstances (police being charged with crimes) arise, it has a debilitating effect on the citizen.
But the public are not the only ones whose trust are shaken, he said. "The trust is also shaken of police officers who want to do a better job . It's shaken because of those police officers who commit criminal offences," Seales said.
"In most of instances and via our own networking, acts are condemned and considered repulsive."
He said officers were, more frequently than before, making their way to the Professional Standards Bureaus and are "ratting out" their colleagues. Seales said this was the reason the public was seeing more arrests. "That would have come from internal sources, Police are blowing the whistle on other bad police officers.
We need to get rid of the baggage in 2016 and start 2017 anew."
Over the past two weeks, the Guardian has received multiple queries from the public regarding lack of trust in the police, including pleas for help in situations where citizens felt they were being harassed by officers.
The Guardian directed these queries to the PCA which investigates complaints against police officers.
BREAKDOWN OF REPORTS RECEIVED BY THE PCA
December 29, 2010 to September 30, 2011 - 255 complaints were received;
October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012 - 340 complaints were received;
October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013 - 470 complaints were received;
October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014 - 491 complaints were received;
October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 - 321 complaints were received.
ALLEGATIONS OF DISCIPLINARY OFFENCES
Neglect of Duty
Unlawful/ Unnecessary Exercise of Authority
Breach of Police Service Regulations
Breach of Confidence
ALLEGATIONS OF CRIMINAL OFFENCES
Total number of allegations of criminal offences for the period October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015.
Causing Death by Dangerous Driving
Assault occ. Actual Bodily Harm
Wounding with intent to do Grievous bodily harm
Assault and Battery
Killing or Wounding Animals
Grievous Sexual Assault
Unlawful and unnecessary use of force
Larceny and Related Offences
Trespass and Unlawful Entry
Possession of Marijuana
Perverting Course of Justice
Shooting with Intent
Misbehaviour in Public Office
Use of Obscene Language