Sacrifice and dedication to duty are the two features which have made recently retired Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the North-Western Region, Stephen Ramsubhag, a household name in the Police Service in his 40 years of duty.Ramsubhag, whose last day of duty is today, says he took it all in stride, sacrifices included.It was this strength to overcome challenges and a foundation that included discipline and dedication that enabled him to easily move up the ranks, he told the T&T Guardian in an interview.
Ramsubhag, of Aberdeen Park, Chaguanas, joined the service at age 20. Armed with what was then commonly called a "grip," and attired in shirt, tie and trousers, Ramsubhag walked into the hallowed halls of the Police Barracks in St James in 1975."My number in training was 8108 and I was a member of the E Squad. There were about 30 of us in that squad," he recalled.
"In those days the training was very tough and discipline was at the forefront of our training. You were not allowed to leave the barracks until you were so entitled, maybe through leave pass. The first six weeks we never saw outside." He added, "The instructors in those days used to say rain don't fall on the barracks square. The barracks square in those days was considered to be holy ground. You cannot walk casually on it. You have to actually keep marching.
"So everything you did in those days at the barracks you had to be on the go...you had to be on the march. If you go to class you had to march." Training in the sweltering sun or pouring rain, sometimes carrying heavy firearms, was the norm, he said of those days.A five minutes break was then allowed before classroom drills which comprised theoretical policing.But not everyone was cut out for the difficult training. Ramsubhag said two members of his "batch" called it quits early on but he says police was his life goal.
"But I was focused because I always wanted to be a police officer because I always stood up for justice, fairness and what is right."During his early years as a cop, Ramsubhag cited lack of mobility as one of the biggest obstacles.Police were then forced to conduct more foot patrols, but this worked to the advantage of the Police Service as it resulted in a greater sense of community spirit."I spend nine months doing foot patrols in and around the city, parading in a short pants sometimes at 4 am in the morning.
"In those days we would be visited on the beat by police corporals and sergeants and once they find you off the beat they would write up your pocket diary. And in those days we had no bullet proof vests. So discipline was at the forefront then," Ramsubhag said.Saying that society was more disciplined then, he added that citizens also had a greater respect for police than currently."Now we don't have that. There is too much criminality and delinquency. In those days you also got a certain amount of humanness from the population."
On the issue of rogue elements in the Police Service, Ramsubhag said the majority of his colleagues were committed to the job, but noted those involved in untoward behaviour must be booted out quickly.On his strategies to assist young officers, Ramsubhag said, "My first stint as a divisional commander was at Northern Division. I had the young officers posted at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), even the Special Reserve Police officers, and I recognised their performance.
"I would call them in and commend them orally and give them written commendations. One or two police officers may not like me for the stance I would have taken against them for their misconduct, whether disciplinary wise or criminal wise," he said. "I have arrested police officers and placed them before the court and placed even senior officers on disciplinary charges."It is tough to make a decision like that but being a police officer, especially at senior leadership level, you cannot be political in your decision making."
Speedier trials and swift prosecution of criminals before the court are needed to ensure the wheels of justice were efficient and effective, Ramsubhag said.He also said legislation regarding firearm possession should be revised so as to keep criminals at bay."I am of the view that anybody charged with an offence emanating from a firearm...three strikes and you're out. No bail.
"There are too many repeat offenders and when you look at the people before the courts most of them are repeat offenders and most of them are on bail...they have no job so they go back to committing crime and it's just a cycle we are going through," Ramsubhag said.He also suggested that night courts and increased courts be constructed to deal with the influx of cases.
On the issue of rehabilitation, Ramsubhag said this was an ideal opportunity to get young people, especially those engaged in crime, to turn over a new leaf."We know that values like honesty and integrity have dropped in the society and even morals and spiritual values have deteriorated, because parents and guardians are not acting responsibly to ensure their children engage in a disciplined way of life and treat others as fellow human beings," Ramsubhag said.
He said the State, including the protectives services, could not accomplish a better society on its own.
Awards and achievements
2015–Commended by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams for outstanding performance as the Alternate Gold Commander for Carnival 2015.
2013–Letter of appreciation from the British High Commission.
2013–Letter of appreciation fro RC Archbishop Joseph Harris for timely intervention regarding a humanitarian matter.
2012–Commendation from then Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Ewatski.
2009–Commendation from Justice Malcom Holdip.
2007–Commendation from Attorney Om Lalla
2006–Commendation from the US Embassy for outstanding police work.
2005–Commendation from the Director of Public Prosecution
1997–Commendation from former Justice Anthony Lucky.
1983-1985–Commendations from the National Security Ministry.
Murder of American Claire Holt, who was raped and strangled in the mid-90s.Murder of businessman Dr Eddie Koury, who was kidnapped and decapitated in 2005. Murder of businessman Christopher Aleong, who was gunned down outside his home on December 2, 2003, while resisting an attempt by men to kidnap him for ransom. Murder of 45-year-old Margaret Haynes, who was killed by her common-law-husband in 2002.