Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, November 5, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Former national security min-
ister Carl Alfonso is supportive
of the call by prisons officers to
be given weapons to protect
themselves while off duty as he
believes there are now concen-
trated deadly attacks being carried
out against the nation s law
Speaking briefly with reporters
after the funeral service of soldier
Shervaun Charleau at the Church
of Assumption, Maraval yesterday,
Alfonso said: "It is sad to see what
is happening... that they are killing
our own people, meaning law
Charleau, 39, a father of four,
was shot during a robbery at Fort
George, St James, on October 30
and died hours later at hospital.
Stating "we have to defend that,"
the former Chief of Defence Staff
added: "If we have to give prisons
officers weapons to take home, so
be it. At least they can protect
themselves. I will certainly support
His comments followed on the
heels of Monday s killing of prisons
superintendent David Millette.
Millette was shot and killed on
Monday morning as he entered his
car at Second Caledonia, Morvant,
to go to work.
One day earlier, three other
prison officers were injured during
a fracas at the Golden Grove
Prison, Arouca, when officials
attempted to carry out an exercise
to seize contraband items within
Extending condolences to
Charleau s family on his sudden
demise, Alphonso admitted the
situation "has gotten out of hand."
As a former serviceman himself,
Alfonso said: "We, law enforce-
ment officers and I still consider
myself one, have to stamp our
authority on the bad guys. We have
to up the ante and do what is nec-
essary to bring this country back
to some form of normalcy."
Claiming he was not condemn-
ing anyone, he said: "We just have
to step up our operations.
"The bad guys are trying to take
advantage, have been taking
advantage and somebody has to
put a stop to it.
"That somebody is the law
enforcement fraternity. The army
and police may have to so some
drastic things," Alfonso added.
Whether it would include more
patrols or more aggressive action,
the former minister was adamant
intensified operations were need-
ed.He said officers had to hit so-
called hot spots and criminal gangs
harder. Asked how he remembered
Charleau, Alfonso revealed he was
responsible for encouraging
Charleau to join the regiment in
Referring to him as a "lovely
boy" who had a special penchant
for sports and other physical activ-
ities, Alphonso said he was happy
to see the prisons service being
transferred back under the portfolio
of the Ministry of National Secu-
He said: "That is a good move,
a very positive move and that
should bring some differences.
"I am almost certain the present
minister will support prisons offi-
cers being armed," he said.
Alfonso make the comment but
stressed it was done without any
prior conversation with National
Security Minister, retired Major
General Edmund Dillon.
See Pages A6 & A7
Alfonso backs guns
for prisons officers
'We have to stop the bad guys'
National Security Minister retired
Brig Edmund Dillon has said while
discussions were still ongoing regard-
ing granting prisons officers firearms,
he could not commit to a time frame
as to when this will be implement-
ed.He was speaking at a press confer-
ence after a meeting with the top brass
of the Prisons Service at the Golden
Grove Prison, Arouca, yesterday.
While saying that safety for prisons
officers was at the fore of the meeting
Dillon refused to divulge initiatives.
Also high on the agenda was Mon-
day s brazen killing of prisons super-
intendent David Millette who was
gunned down in the driveway of his
Morvant home in what prisons officials
have described as a "hit" from behind
However, Dillon said yesterday s
meeting was not as a result of the slay-
ing but rather it was always his intention
to meet with the prisons executive.
Pressed further when talks regarding
the issuing of firearms would be
finalised Dillon said: "I would not com-
mit myself to a time frame. I would
say it is being considered as a number
The minister said short-term meas-
ures would include protecting prisons
officers as they continued to carried
out their functions.
He said other issues discussed yes-
terday included that of overcrowding
of all prisons, in particular that of the
Remand Yard and infrastructural devel-
"I have taken on board some rec-
ommendations from the Prisons Com-
missioner which we will be discussed
and further developed as we go ahead.
This discussion is part of information-
gathering as we form the strategic bal-
"I prefer not to disclose those rec-
ommendations but I can assure that
they would be favourably considered
based on justification, on resources and
the ability so to do," Dillon added.
He said his ministry was also "treat-
ing with the reality on the ground," as
the police also had their work cut out.
In a pledge to reaffirm his Govern-
ment s commitment to members of the
protective services Dillon praised the
Prisons Service for an excellent job at
prison rehabilitation and reform.
"We re committed to ensure they
get what is required to do their jobs
effectively and efficiently. It certainly
gives me no comfort at this time to say
there are a number of social problems
plaguing our society at this time and
we have seen that manifested in crime
and criminality throughout T&T," Dillon
He said the Government and by
extension the National Security Ministry
would be moving quickly to restore
confidence in not only the society but
also in th Prisons Commissioner and
his executive... in the Defence Force as
the State continues to build capacity
and treat with the many issues it is
"As we go forward I want to ensure
the national community that as minister
that this Government has really artic-
ulated that we are adopting a whole of
Government approach which tran-
scends into the Ministry of National
Security," Dillon said.
He said that meant all institutions
of the national security framework,
including the Police Service, forensics,
prisons and immigration, would be
brought to bear to treat with the issues
of crime and criminality.
On why he has not yet met with the
association Dillon said this was his
intention but his first order of business
was to meet with the prisons executive.
Dillon mum on time frame
The greatest challenge facing
the Prisons Service is the growing
number of Remand inmates as
that figure has reach 2,000 and
growing, says Prisons Commis-
sioner Sterling Stewart during a
press briefing at the Golden Grove
Prison, Arouca, yesterday.
Stewart also cautioned his men
always to be cautious while on and
off-duty, as they have been con-
tinuous targets of criminals.
Stewart and members of his
executive met with National Secu-
rity Minister Edmund Dillon yes-
terday to discuss initiatives to
strengthen safety for prisons offi-
Making mention of the killing
of prisons superintendent David
Millette, Stewart said that was
done in the most "despicable way."
"As we continue to fulfill our
duties of preparing those who
come within our environment for
their re-entry we are faced on a
daily basis with life-threatening
incidents, intimidation and threats
and as such first on our agenda is
and continues to be the safety and
security of all officers.
"One of our greatest challenges
is the number of remanded
inmates," Stewart said, adding
those inmates comprised come 63
per cent of the entire prison pop-
Calling for a more efficient judi-
cial system, Stewart said now, more
that ever, matters needed to be
expedited "because at the end of
the day the challenge is not with
Asked if he hoped yesterday s
talks would bear fruit Stewart
expressed confidence in Dillon,
saying he will give the minister the
opportunity to stand by his word.
"We have discussed time-lines
and we are looking for the fulfill-
ment of that," Stewart said.
He said there were too many
people in T&T who had the desire
for crime and for killing.
"There is no longer that value
for life and where Mr Millette lives
is a high-risked area and there was
opportunity...so he was just inno-
cent...he was hunted down and
gunned down. He was on vacation.
He was an easy target and they
used that opportunity," Stewart
He maintained that Millette s
murder was linked to an incident
which occurred at the Maximum
Security Prison on Sunday in
which three prisons officers were
injured after prisoners refused to
hand over a knife.
Stewart: Too many Remand prisoners
National Security Minister Brig Edmond Dillon, right, and Prisons Commissioner
Sterling Stewart speak at yesterday's news conference. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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