Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 15th 2013 Contents A5
Friday, November 15, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prisons officers will not back down
from their protest action and they will
respond to any attempt of disciplinary
action the State may take against them.
So said president of the Prisons Officers
Association Ceron Richards yesterday. He
said officers were prepared to maintain
their protest action.
Richards, speaking with the T&T
Guardian after the funeral service for slain
prisons officer Andy Rogers at New Life
Revival Centre, Freeport, said officers
wanted action not promises.
"We have been meeting with the com-
missioner (of Prisons) almost on a daily
basis and as much as we welcome the
interest being paid by the commissioner,
it is unfortunate that all we are getting
is lip service. We are not seeing tangibles
and officers will not respond to promises,"
The officers have been engaged in
protest action since last week after Rogers
was gunned down near his Daniel Trace,
He said officers have a mixed feelings
following Rogers death. The officer had
been threatened and at one point was
issued a gun to protect himself.
"They are very sad and at the same
time they are very angry because over the
years we have been having this happening
and the State, in our view, has not come
up to the table with anything productive
or tangible to ensure their security is
He said after 15 prisons officers funerals
in about ten years they were in no better
place than they were when the first mur-
der took place.
While protesting officers could face
disciplinary action, Richards said:
"It will be more productive for the State
if it will implement things in furtherance
of the protection of officers rather than
use an aggressive approach to chastise
and penalise officers."
He said any action by the State to
penalise the officers would only seek to
rub salt in the wounds of the officers.
Richards said the association had put
forward several recommendations which
they would like to be implemented imme-
diately at the prisons.
He said for security reasons he could
not divulge them.
He said officers were fighting for their
health and safety behind the prison walls.
While he sympathised with all inmates
relatives who were grieving to see family
members, Richards said inmates were not
being fed in the prison because of the
However, he said, officers were standing
up for their well-being.
He added: "I am not saying that inmates
not being fed and families not getting to
see their loved ones is a good thing.
"It cannot be a good thing but at the
same time we have to look at the plight
of these officers.
"They are unwilling to go into the dan-
gerous areas. They are being threatened
and the State seems to have a very lack-
lustre approach in treating these things."
Being allowed to have guns
while off-duty, bullet-proof vests
and housing in safe areas are some
of the main concerns raised yes-
terday during a high-powered
meeting among stakeholders in
the prisons sector.
Justice Minister Emmanuel
George presided over the meeting
at his Port-of-Spain office.
Also attending were Commis-
sioner of Prisons Martin Martinez,
deputy Commissioner of Prisons
Allan Jones, acting Commissioner
of Police Stephen Williams and
managing director of the Housing
Development Corporation (HDC)
Prisons officers have been taking
industrial action since the murder
of prisons officer Andy Rogers last
week at Daniel Trace, Malabar.
In a telephone interview yester-
day, George said: "The prisons offi-
cers have been taking some indus-
trial action by all appearance.
"The demands of the prisons offi-
cers are essentially that they want
to be able to carry a firearm. They
want to have protective clothing
George said it was Williams rec-
ommendation there should
be legislation that had severe penal-
ties to perpetrators in the event of
the death or injury of a prisons
"I have agreed to take steps
towards legislation. With the pro-
tective vests I will take that to the
National Security Council for dis-
cussion," he added.
George said the right for officers
to bear guns was left up to the
Commissioner of Police.
The minister said the police
agreed to have surveillance and
security for prison officers who
were under threat.
"The Commissioner of Police
immediately informed all the sta-
tions that any threats to officers be
treated with urgency and an added
level of seriousness," he added.
With regards to their housing
problems, John told George that
ten per cent of officers under
National Security were allocated
"I have still requested a listing
of the prisons officers who have
outstanding applications to forward
it to HDC," he said.
George said prison overcrowding
and the length of time cases were
called were actively being pursued.
Referring to the inmates, George
said they would be affected but
their lives were not being threat-
However, he added, it was alarm-
ing the inmates had cellphones to
contact members of the media.
Meanwhile, inmates at the
Remand Yard, Golden Grove Prison,
Arouca, yesterday described the
situation as "chaotic."
"We didn t get diet for the day.
It have no court, no visits, people
running out of things to eat... it
causing a rift with inmates, some
fighting and not getting an oppor-
tunity to bathe," an inmate said.
"We have been staying in contact
with other inmates and this is hap-
pening in every prison. We need to
get our visits, diets and airing. It
is our constitutional right and we
will take action against the state,"
Give us guns, safe housing
Protesting prisons officers to minister:
Stand firm. This was retired
prisons officer Bishop Anthony
Martin s message to prisons offi-
cers yesterday as he officiated at
the funeral service of slain prisons
officer Andy Rogers.
Rogers, who had 19 years service,
was gunned down last Wednesday
at his Daniel Trace, Malabar, home.
Yesterday hundreds of prisons
officers and well-wishers gathered
at the New Life Revival Centre,
Restoration Temple, Calcutta Road
#4, Freeport, to bid farewell to a
Relatives of the officer had to be
restrained as they viewed Roger s
body in the open casket.
He was dressed in full uniform.
His shining black steel-tipped boots
and prisons hat were placed atop
his casket which was airbrushed
with the prisons colours of green,
gold and brown.
Martin, in his sermon, called on
prisons officers not to yield to any
form of enticement that may come
their way in the prisons.
"Temptation is going to come
your way. Your lives are going to
be threatened but remember God
is alive," Martin added.
He said the prisons could be an
"attractive jungle" where they
would have certain opportunities
but urged them to "stand firm" in
"Yes, there are some dissidents,
many times we know who they are
but we may keep silent. Who know
who brings in the cellphones and
so on," he said.
With no standing room in the
church many of the officers, some
dressed in uniform and armed with
weapons, gathered in the church
courtyard, braving the rain to pay
However, Martin said they should
resist inducements and urged them
to seek the protection of God as
they went about their daily duties.
"I know the association is seeking
your protection and that is good.
They are seeking for a change of
place and that is good but the best
protection is with God s eyes upon
us," he said.
He said Rogers death was a
Pastor at funeral of officer: Stand firm
Prisons officers escort the hearse bearing the body of their slain colleague, Andy Rogers, to the St Mary's public cemetery, Freeport, after his funeral
service the New Life Revival Centre, Calcutta Road #4, Freeport, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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