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PM: Vetted police units meant to work with US authorities

Martin George & Company > Newspaper Articles  > PM: Vetted police units meant to work with US authorities

PM: Vetted police units meant to work with US authorities

PM: Vetted police units meant to work with US authorities

THE Prime Minister says his plan to introduce special vetted units to the police is meant to position TT’s law enforcement to work with US security authorities in the fight against crime.

Speaking during an interview on I95.5FM’s Afternoon Drive on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Rowley sought to defend himself from criticism of the plan, introduced during a PNM political meeting in San Fernando on Saturday night. At the time, he said the units would be used to help weed out corrupt police officers.

Rowley raised the matter again during a National Security Council meeting at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

On Monday, Rowley faced criticism from Police Service Welfare Association president ASP Gideon Dickson, who said units to vet officers already existed in the police.

Dickson also complained about Rowley’s claim of corrupt police officers.

“Don’t single out the police when we have a total breakdown in societal structures and institutions.”

He added that Rowley’s claims would have demoralised officers. “The police are coming in for all the licks.”

Rowley’s plan has also been criticised by former Police Service Commission member Martin George; former commissioner of police Gary Griffith, now leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA); and UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

On Tuesday, Rowley said his comments were “exactly what I should be saying. We have a problem and we’re going to deal with it.”

He said US authorities would work through the vetted units to use and share information.

“And one of the conditions is that we must have the confidence of the people with whom they (police) will associate. I’m talking about the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

“We have to prepare our agencies to be in a satisfaction mode to work with the US agencies, especially now that gun and ammunition trafficking across state lines and across the border is now a federal crime in the US.

“I spoke in the context of what we are going to be doing with the Americans, whom we have asked most repeatedly to work with us and help us to fight criminal violent crime – gunrunning, human trafficking, and drug running.”

He said those who criticised his plan for vetted units were trying to fool the public, as the police already had a number of active vetted units whose officers were given a special allowance.

“When I hear a lawyer saying if you give some officers a special allowance of some kind, it will cause this and that, they are just making mischief.”

Rowley said in order for the US to co-operate with TT on fighting crime, there must be “effective units, meaning groups of special police officers, men and women who are vetted to ensure that their integrity is intact.

“So when you’re going after the non-police criminals, they have their friends in the police service to tip them off, and we have to have vetted units. And I’m telling this country that we are prepared to pay extra to police officers in those vetted units if they will maintain their integrity and help us to root out the criminals in the police service, customs, immigration and in the Parliament.

Rowley said his comments did not mean he had no faith in the police.

“I have to have confidence in the police, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair.”

In the coming months, Rowley said, TT could look forward to greater effort against the criminal element where the government would do things differently in some areas.

“This is not a simple matter of blaming individuals. We have crimes that we’re dealing with where it involves international involvement.
“It involves a supply of harmful items from another country. It involves preservation of our own institutions.

“We do have certain things in place, the police is doing certain good work. They should do more…we are trying to get them to do more.

“Where there are impediments to that, we try to remove those impediments. Where the resources are not sufficient, we try to put more resources there. And, of course, we have to be confident that we can overcome the situation.”

PM: Vetted police units meant to work with US authorities

BY: ELIZABETH GONZALES

Newsday newspaper Trinidad and Tobago

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