Saturday, 10 December 2016

PCA Chairman David West, "Police Biggest Gang in TT"

Finally, somebody other than this Blog Admin has summoned the guts to accurately and publicly label the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

PCA Chairman David West yesterday called the TTPS "the biggest gang in the country" and his comment was tweeted all over the world.

Well, as far back as December of 2010 and many times since then, we, in several posts on this blog have labelled the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service "THE LARGEST ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE IN THE COUNTRY".

We also did so on the Facebook pages of the Service and its Social and Welfare Association then headed by Sgt. Anand Ramesar.

Of course, they quickly removed our posts from their pages but not before several of their members vented their displeasure with obscenities, insults and threats. Many expressed their anger on this blog as well, challenging the Blog's Admin to "man up and identify himself".

We reproduce hereunder the first of many posts in which we called the TTPS the "largest organized criminal enterprise in the country"

New Commissioner  "Spinning Top In Mud"
Monday 6 December 2010

That's an accurate description of what's currently taking place in the Police Service in its fight against crime. And by now, new Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs must be seriously questioning his sanity and what led him to believe that he as a foreigner could succeed in bringing the local crime situation under control.

One cannot help but wonder whether in accepting his appointment, Mr. Gibbs was fully cognizant of the main factors behind the general state of lawlessness in Trinidad and Tobago, and the fact that the Police Service which he agreed to lead represents the worst of those factors responsible for today’s murderous criminal rampage.

Also, the question arises as to whether our new Prime Minister and her Minister of National Security were themselves aware of the full extent of the cancerous rot that had entrenched itself at all levels in the Police Service and the paralyzing inefficiency and indolence that found sanctuary there under the PNM.

The facts are brutal; they tell their own story; none of the former Commissioners, most recent of whom are Hilton Guy, Everald Snaggs, Trevor Paul and James Philbert - and we will include Assistant Commissioner Stephen Williams and the entire current executive of the Service as well - none of them could have survived their respective tenures in the Service with their integrity and professionalism intact unless they were all either blind or deaf, if not both, and probably damned fools and cowards as well, otherwise, each man in his own time, would have rocked the Service off its crooked foundation with public revelations of operational irregularities and criminality within its ranks that could not have escaped his attention or observation over the thirty odd years that he would have functioned in that environment, many of them at senior levels.

And today, Commissioner Gibbs, poor man, finds himself surrounded by and depending on the same Police Service Executive that has proven itself to be impotent and ineffectual in the fight against crime. These are the same men and women who failed to deal with criminality and corruption within the service in any meaningful manner and with crime generally in the wider society. Of course there may be some exceptions to that general statement; officers who may be  hardworking and honest,  a diminishing and endangered minority, who might have tried but certainly did not succeed in reversing the decades old rot that has entrenched itself in the Police Service.

History and God will judge them.

But what makes Commissioner Gibbs think that the current batch of  senior DIKs (Dunces in Khaki) would be of assistance to him now? What skill or competence,  sense of integrity, morality and fair play would they have suddenly developed in 2010 that they could not and did not muster over the past 30 or more years? Having been part and parcel of the overall problems within the Police Service, whether wittingly or unwittingly, having failed to deal with those problems in any meaningful manner at anytime through their rising careers, none of them could now be part of the solution, and that includes Assistant Commissioner Stephen Williams and and all the other local high ranking officers as well.

For Gibbs to succeed in his task, he cannot be forced to depend on the current police executive of compromised officers.

Notwithstanding the powers conferred on him, Gibbs, could not come into this country and just rid the police service of its entire executive. That job should have been done by the powers that be prior to his appointment and he should have been allowed the freedom to hand pick a new executive to ensure that his efforts to cleanse the service and deal with crime generally are not undermined by vested police service interests.

And in saying so we remember the Assistant Commissioner of Police who in 1993 pulled a gun and threatened to shoot the Scotland Yard Officer appointed by the Manning Administration to probe the service. No charges were ever laid against the gun pulling Assistant Commissioner and the Scotland Yard officer hightailed it back to the safety of jolly old London.

Instead, Gibbs was appointed, placed in an institutional straitjacket and told "go and deal with crime" and the people on whom he has to depend to get out of that straightjacket are the same ones who allowed crime to flourish in the service and the country generally.

Those of us who old enough will remember that the professionalism and integrity of the TTPS became compromised at the highest levels since the days of deceased Commissioner Randolph Burroughs and his notorious Flying Squad, and since then, the situation has become infinitely worse. We have painfully and shamefully witnessed the deterioration of the Police Service in every aspect under the command of various local Commissioners and Executives. With various rogue cliques scattered throughout its ranks, each acting as its brother’s keeper, the Service has successfully - and all on its own - created an ugly image of itself as the largest organized criminal enterprise in the country, in effect, an integral and inextricable component of the very criminal network that it is sworn to protect us from.

Its defenders will insist that the Police Service comprises mainly ‘dedicated and hardworking officers’, and that its “just a few ‘bad eggs’ giving the Service a bad name”. But in the eyes of many, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service as a unit has failed in the discharge of its core constitutional function which is to serve the public in an impartial, humane, humble and professional manner by protecting the weak from the strong, the good from the bad and maintaining law and order within the many communities it serves.

That mandate, however, cannot be predicated on or accomplished by Police Officers themselves breaking the law or operating beyond the scope of their lawful authority.

It is our view that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is rotten to the core; that contrary to its defenders’ view, it is a few good officers trying, in vain, to salvage and restore some semblance of respect and honour to the Service’s battered image. Our opinion is based on and supported by disclosures over the years by police officers themselves and criminal elements of Police involvement in activities that run the gamut of organized crime, from providing protection to drug dealers, gun runners and merchants of flesh to direct involvement by police officers in those criminal activities, with extortion, kidnapping and murder (even of their own) topping the list.

Adding further support to our view are the thousands of complaints registered yearly with the Police Complaints Authority by aggrieved and victimized citizens that identify incidents of hooliganism, unjustified and unlawful police brutality and abuse including acts of torture, the receiving of bribes by Police Officers to plant and fabricate evidence to support false charges against innocent persons, and countless other acts of misbehavior too numerous to detail.

The result of all this is that public confidence in and goodwill towards the Service are now virtually non-existent. The Service, or at least what’s left of it, has become a national embarrassment and fiscal liability to law abiding, tax-paying citizens as our courts continue to award sizable sums in damages to citizens aggrieved by wrongful police actions.

What the Government needs to do now and has needed to do for some time to neutralize the Service’s many rogue elements and police misbehavior generally is make the individual Police Officer more liable for his actions by reviewing and amending the law as it relates to the common law doctrine of vicarious liability that would allow him to be sued in his personal capacity whenever he commits any act beyond the scope of his lawful authority or outside of proper operating procedure.

Such legislation must allow any court awarded damages and judgments to be satisfied in the first instance from the officer’s accumulated benefits and pension entitlements and thereafter from his future earnings, personal property and even posthumously from his estate. The errant police officer will know well in advance and understand that there will be serious financial and other consequences to his actions that would impact not only on him, his career and financial well being but also on the future of his loved ones and dependents and their financial well being as well.

In so far as projecting a new image of the Service the State needs to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel in its recruitment of police officers. No longer must the Service continue to be the repository of brute force, ignorance, arrogance and incompetence that it has become. Send home lazy, non performing, corrupt officers who have found sanctuary within the Service and replace them with a different caliber, new breed of officer in whom brawn will be replaced by brain and ignorance by education. Let the high handed misconceived arrogance that has been the hall mark of Police Service and which we have endured for the past 50 years be replaced by efficiency, integrity, professionalism and humility in the service of the people.


  1. West sorry for ‘police gang’ talk

    Source: Newsday
    Sunday, December 11 2016

    Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West’s apology for branding police officers as the “biggest gang” in the country has done little to appeased Police Social and Welfare Association president Inspector Michael Seales.

    “I will not respond to that, I will respond next week ....because next week, he will not be the PCA director anymore,” Seales declared yesterday On Friday, West had said, “this gang” , in reference to the TTPS, “is left untouched and there have been no prosecutions”.

    He made the statements at a discussion titled “Eat and Tweet: Anti- Corruption Debate” held at the British High Commissioner’s Residence, Beaumont Road, Maraval.

    The debate was held in observance of International Anti-Corruption Day. Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Dion Abdool, chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, and Richard Blewitt, UN Resident Co-ordinator and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, sat on a panel leading the debate on corruption in TT.

    In an emailed statement yesterday, the Communications Unit of the PCA quoted West as saying, “I apologise for the statement as having come over as an indictment against the entire TTPS. I ought to have said that there is an element of rogue officers within the service who have to be removed and brought before the courts.” The Communications Unit went on to say that “the director recognizes that there are many committed, honest and law abiding police officers who put their lives on the line every day in the fight against crime. The Director reassures the public that matters that come to the PCA are dealt with independently and impartially and that the Authority allows the rules of natural justice and due process to prevail.” Seales told Sunday Newsday, West phoned him yesterday morning to “unreservedly apologise” for calling the TTPS the “biggest gang” after social media went abuzz and the story was highlighted in the newspapers.

    Seales said the statement went viral and he was “inundated with telephone calls .” He declined to give details of the conversation with West but said he “expressed regret for making the statement.” Asked whether the apology was accepted, Seales said it was not up to him but the general membership of the TTPS to either accept or reject it. He said a decision will be taken following the determination of a court matter involving Ag Inspector Ian Carty on December 19.

    “I have nothing to say as yet, after the 19th (December), because there’s a case that is going on, that is to be completed in which he (West) is the complainant, after that he may not be the PCA director.” Seales was referring to a matter involving Carty of the Court and Process Department in Port-of -Spain which is expected to end on that date. Carty’s charges relate to failing to co-operate with the PCA on the Day of Total Policing which was held on March 23, 2015 and which resulted in traffic gridlock virtually shutting down the capital city. Carty, who is also a trustee on the PSWA, was subsequently arrested and charged . The PSWA president said he is expecting a favourable outcome. Following the court’s ruling , Seales said he and his executive would meet to discuss the way forward.

    Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams also did not respond, only to say West had called him and apologised also, when questioned during a Christmas children’s party hosted by the police in Laventille yesterday.

    1. Not surprised. I knew they would react just as they did when I wrote my piece about them back in 2010. Nothing offends like the truth

  2. Newsday Editorial: Irresponsible Comments

    Monday, December 12 2016

    Saturday’s apology by director of the Police Complaints Authority David West serves as an acknowledgment that he went too far in his comments on Friday but it does not erase the damage that has been done: both to West’s own tenure as well as the Police Service.

    “The Police Service is the biggest gang in Trinidad and Tobago and they are left untouched,” West said.

    He was speaking at an event hosted by a diplomat that was broadcast all over the world thanks to social media. The event took the form of a discussion entitled “Eat and Tweet: Anti-Corruption Debate.” As implied by its title, the forum allowed for live tweets so what West said went viral quickly.

    His apology sought to “clarify” that he intended to say there are rouge cops who should be facing justice, while saying there are also law-abiding officers. But we have been down this road before. By the time the apology was issued on Saturday, it was too late to put the genie back in the bottle. Social media quickly picked up on West’s remarks, regardless of his supposed true intent. Why he failed to qualify his statement as it was being made we do not know.

    Our impression West’s judgment has been seriously undermined in two ways by this incident.

    Firstly, the director ostensibly showed extraordinary callousness in deeming all police officers akin to gang members. Doing so unfairly painted all officers with the same brush. It furthermore endangered the lives of the men and women who daily patrol the streets, following their motto to protect and serve with pride. To deem all such persons, prima facie and without a shred of evidence, “gang members”, is to invite retaliation from members of the public.

    Secondly, West was reckless to make such an unqualified statement at a forum designed to quickly and widely broadcast his remarks. He must have also recognized that his role as police watchdog would give such statements a certain weight. It is one thing for an ordinary citizen to describe the police as a gang, it is another thing for the police regulator – part of the armature of law enforcement – to do so. West should have anticipated the effect his statement would have on the ordinary citizen and on the morale of the Police Service.

    While it is laudable that West quickly apologied to the Police Social Welfare Association president Michael Seales and Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, that is not good enough to reverse what was an extraordinary act of recklessness.

    A press release issued as damage control does not excuse West, a former head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, from this misstep.

    His remarks will not engender the cooperation he seeks in reviewing complaints against the police and could prejudice cases being reviewed by the PCA.

    Further, the comments risked embroiling the Parliament as MPs have been asked to consider bestowing more powers to the PCA.

    What is worse is the fact that West is currently the nominal complainant in criminal proceedings filed in the Magistrates Court in relation to the PCA’s probe of the infamous day of “Total Policing”.

    That matter is sub-judice and it was unbecoming of the PCA director to ventilate such views while also pushing criminal charges against a police officer in court.

    It may well be that West’s remarks were an expression of justifiable frustration over a lack of resources. But castigating all police officers at large at a public event does little to make the PCA more effective in handling inquiries of complaints. In fact, it does needless damage to the institution and its members.

    On this count, we tend to agree with the Police Social and Welfare Association president Inspector Michael Seales in his dire assessment.

    This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. West, already controversial due to his role in litigation featuring politicians and in resisting a Parliament committee months ago, has erred one time too many.


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