Friday, 23 December 2016

Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association Statement - Irresponsible Comments

Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association
December 12 at 7:50am ·

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.

Regardless of the spin the Newsday editorial chooses to put on Mr. West's comments, the brutal fact is that the Police Service as a unit is not trusted by the general public; it is not liked by the general public; it is not appreciated by the general public; instead, It is feared and resented and the Police have only themselves to blame for that

I prefer to take my chance with the criminal element. If I am attacked by a criminal I can retaliate, defend myself, and if able, kick the shit out of him, or blast him into thy Kingdom come.

But when the Police Officer attacks me just as unlawfully and criminally as the Police routinely do to many citizens, I have to put up, shut up and take it

I cannot defend myself against a police officer's criminality whether he is in uniform or out of uniform.I have to comply no matter how unreasonable, vindictive, mistaken and asinine his behaviour. I cannot tell him he is talking nonsense no matter how nonsensical his statements and I certainly cannot tell him he is ignorant no matter how ridiculously uninformed and misinformed he is unless I want to get the shit kicked out of me.

And when I end up in Court he will prevaricate, lie and perjure himself just like the common criminal would, and most times, he will get away with his deception and malice. 

The Police Service is not only dysfunctional but it is schizophrenic. A survey that canvasses  public perception of the Police will support West's statement and ours as well that "the TTPS IS THE LARGEST ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

West should not have apologized and should have stood his ground.

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