Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 17th 2015 Contents A5
Friday, April 17, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
There are no clear guidelines regarding
the treatment of people while in police
custody and this is a cause for serious con-
cern, secretary of the Police Service Social
and Welfare Association Insp Michael
He said so yesterday as four more police-
men appeared in court charged with mis-
behaviour in office and mistreatment of a
Last week, 12 police officers also appeared
at the Sangre Grande Magistrates Court
after they allegedly threw hot water on a
suspect in custody.
Seales said the latest incident highlighted
the urgent need to review the Police Standing
Orders on the issue of treatment of people
However, he said while the association
was concerned about the number of officers
being charged, the issue was "somewhat
disingenuous" due to the lack of clear stip-
"There is also no guideline for different-
ly-abled, blind or homosexuals while in
police custody. Even from a religious position,
people of religious denominations... like
Hindus and Muslims...there are no guidelines
as to how they should be treated while in
"The world is constantly changing and
there is absolutely no protocol as to the
treatment of such people and we in the
association are very concerned about this,"
According to statistics from the Police
Service s Professional Standards Bureau,
formed under then Police Commissioner
Dwayne Gibbs, some 22 officers have been
charged and taken before the courts for
misbehaviour in public office so far this
A total of 24 officers were charged last
year for varying offences by the Professional
Seales said one of the main reasons offi-
cers found themselves on the other side of
the law was a lack of training.
"The curriculum at the Police Training
Academy is also devoid of how to care for
people in custody and the association is
saying that clear guidelines are urgently
needed not only to prevent alleged abuse
but also ensure that alleged perpetrators
face heavy sanctions," Seales said.
Describing the issue as troubling, Seales
told police officers they did not only have
a duty to serve and protect but they also
needed to look at themselves through the
eyes of the public.
Saying such matters had been negatively
affecting the Police Service for sometime,
Seales said recommendations were made
to former CoP Gibbs and also acting Police
Commissioner Stephen Williams to review
the standing orders and ensure there were
proper guidelines for the treatment of people
To date, Seales added, nothing had been
"The association had also asked the for-
mer solicitor general, Eleanor Donaldson-
Honeywell, that the outcome of court cases,
whether negative or positive, involving police
officers and those in custody be used as
"We had also asked former Police Com-
plaints Authority (PCA) director Gillian
Lucky to look at the code of conduct for
citizens and police officers of Jamaica in
which there was a special feature in terms
of rights and treatment. In the meantime
this matter continues to rear its ugly head,"
He recommended that a model similar
to what existed in the United Kingdom be
put in place where there was a "custody
officer" charged with the general respon-
sibility of ensuring that a person in police
custody was treated fairly and humanely by
JENSEN LA VENDE
Four policemen charged with misbehaviour in public
office were granted continuing bail, totalling $600,000,
when they appeared before a Tunapuna magistrate yes-
The officers---Dave Ramkissoon, 37, Sean Hutchinson, 29,
Gary John, 26, and Aquilan Baptiste, 26---all of the St Joseph
Police Station, appeared before Magistrate Gillian David-
Scotland just after 11 am.
The four, who were represented by James Caruth and Ulric
Skerritt, pleaded not guilty to misbehaving in public office
by using unnecessary violence against Ashby Alexander.
Hutchinson and John were also charged with falsely impris-
oning and detaining Alexander along the Churchill-Roosevelt
Highway, while Baptiste and John are charged with assaulting
Alexander at the St Joseph Police Station.
All the offences allegedly occurred on August 30 last year.
However, prior to the start of the matter, the media was
sent on a wild goose chase.
A media release sent out by the Public Affairs Unit of the
Police Service on Wednesday initially said the officers were
to appear in Tunapuna but when the media got there yesterday
they were told the officers were in fact appearing in Arima.
As the media made their way to Arima, the officers returned
to Tunapuna and appeared before Magistrate Gillian David-
The move to evade the media was reminiscent of last week
where 12 police officers attached to the Eastern Division were
given preferential treatment by their colleagues, who allowed
them to enter and exit the Sangre Grande courthouse with
the aid of heavily tinted vehicles and blocked media cameras.
Speaking with the media yesterday, Supt Inraj Balram said
it was a genuine mix-up.
"I can emphatically say that no attempt was made by the
police to hide these officers or to mislead the media by telling
them contrary information. Not at all.
"What happened today (yesterday) was just an unfortunate
series of events but we solved it. The media alone was not
victim to it but there was certainly no intent to deceive the
media or hide the officers, far from it," he said.
Inspector Eric Parks of the St Joseph Police Station charged
the men. The officers will reappear in court on June 16.
22 cops before
courts this year
Four cops in court on
No bail for Jamaican women
charged in grocery robbery
Police officers charged for the year
• One inspector.
• One sergeant.
• Two corporals.
• 18 constables.
The Police Complaints Authority's
statistical report from Oct 1, 2013 to
Sept 30, 2014:
The Investigations Department
received 491 complaints for the period
Oct 1, 2013 to Sept 30, 2014.
Comparisons for the preceding
reporting periods are:
• December 29, 2010 to September 30,
2011: 255 complaints.
• October 1, 2011 to September 30,
2012: 340 complaints.
• October 1, 2012 to September 30,
2013: 470 complaints.
Contacted yesterday, PCA director
David West said the fact that there were
so many police officers before the courts
was not really a matter of concern but
rather showed that the PCA and the
Professional Standards Bureau were
recognising their independence and
He said it also sent a message that
rogue officers were in fact being weeded
out which would ultimately restore faith
and confidence in the public.
"Not only that but this will encourage
people to make reports, which is critical.
The Standing Orders and the Use of
Force Policy must be reviewed and
modernised because they are too old,"
He said on September 13, 2013, the
PCA met with Williams and outlined
recommendations regarding the
treatment of differently-abled people
while in custody but said they were yet
to receive feedback.
Head of the Professional Standards
Bureau, ACP Harrikrishen Baldeo, also
warned yesterday that there would be a
no-nonsense approach in dealing with
"Once we get a report we will deal with
it in a transparent manner. People have
the notion that they don't want to come
to the police because they are afraid but
they are free to come to the police and I
can assure that all complaints will be
dealt with in strict confidence," Baldeo
Members of the public can contact the
bureau at 625-3779.
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Seales wants updated custody guidelines
Two Jamaican women were denied bail yesterday after
appearing in court charged with stealing almost a million
dollars from a business they once guarded.
Raquel Williams and Monique Dennis were both charged
with stealing $834,782.80 from the Happiness Supermarket on
April 7. During the robbery, the store s owner Hi Hong Huang
was killed. Two men are currently in police custody facing a
possible murder charge in connection with the incident.
The two women were arrested last week on board a Caribbean
Airlines flight en route to Barbados and bound for Jamaica.
Police said at least $80,000 of the stolen loot has been recov-
The women were unrepresented when they appeared before
Tunapuna Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland. They were remand-
ed in custody after the magistrate explained that she needed
to secure proof they had no criminal record in their homeland.
Williams told the magistrate she was married and lived with
her husband, while Dennis said she lived with her sister in San
Juan. Both women said they plan to retain a lawyer in the
matter. The duo will reappear on Monday. (JLV)
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