Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, July 24, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Opposition Leader Dr Keith
Rowley says Acting Commission-
er of Police Stephen Williams has
made the Police Service an
eunuch, causing soldiers to push
During a People s National
Movement public meeting at the
Massy Stores carpark, St Augus-
tine, on Tuesday night, Rowley
said the army had taken the posi-
tion that the police had collapsed.
"He has converted the Police
Service to a eunuch. The Police
Service is headless and the crim-
inals know it," Rowley said.
He said that was why the army
"pushed aside" the police in order
to investigate the death of one of
their own, Lance Cpl Kayode
Thomas, who was killed in Laven-
tille last month.
Rowley called on the Defence
Force to refrain from tarnishing
the reputation of the army. He said
he had been filled with pride sev-
eral times while observing T&T
soldiers delivering aid in Haiti, St
Vincent, Dominica and other
He added: "I want to say to the
head of the Defence Force tonight,
you have a proud tradition. You
are one of the few of the country s
institutions where the vast majority
of people feel that you represent
the best that this country has to
"Do not do anything to bring
your army or your Coast Guard
"In this period of disorder, I am
asking the Defence Force, do not
do anything that would tarnish
the well-earned reputation of the
Rowley said the fact that Min-
ister of National Security Gary
Griffith condoned the action by
soldiers made the situation worse.
He slammed the Government
for a crime plan which included
"comfort police" and questioned
Government s failure to appoint a
Commissioner of Police.
Rowley told the crowd his com-
munity had recently experienced
a situation where men wearing red
shirts were patrolling the area in
an Almera car. Rowley said when
he approached the men, he was
told they were comfort police.
He added: "They should appoint
a Commissioner of Police but
instead of doing that and raising
the morale of police officers, they
appoint comfort police to drive
around in strange cars and bringing
"What I want to know, is the
persons who you put out there to
play police, do they have police
uniforms? How do we know who
they are? Are they armed? Are
they trained in policing? How
many millions are you paying for
cars for them?" he asked.
Rowley said the Opposition had
gone to Government with a ten-
point plan and only a proper police
service could respond effectively
to the crime problem.
"You cannot have a proper
police service if the head of the
Police Service is on a ten days. Mr
Williams is on a permanent ten
days," said Rowley.
Williams has been acting as CoP
since 2012 and has had his contract
extended for several six-month
National Security Minister Gary
Griffith says Laventille has become
the "safest ever in years," adding that
soldiers will not be moved from the
He also called for a "middle-ground"
to be established as soldiers daily were
putting their lives on the line and were
impotent to make arrests. He made it
clear he was not demanding that sol-
diers be given powers of arrest.
Griffith said so at a press conference
at the National Security Ministry, Aber-
cromby Street, Port-of-Spain, yester-
day. Also in attendance were acting
Police Commissioner Stephen Williams
and Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen
Within recent weeks there has been
criticism from members of the public,
the Law Association, and from some
Laventille residents, and Williams about
soldiers patrolling on their own and
On the directive given for soldiers
to be called out, Williams said that was
raised at a National Security Council
meeting earlier this year when 19 mur-
ders were recorded in January.
He explained: "We had a national
security meeting. The clear mandate
given was to ensure T&T was returned
to a level of peace and safety. Coming
out of that we launched a 2014 oper-
ation heavily built around the areas
where we were facing our greatest chal-
lenge. Laventille has been the dominant
area for many years.
"That operation has been running
from January and it has been height-
ened within recent times. The Chief
of Defence Staff and I would have joined
and we shaped an operation to drive
violent crimes down.
"The mandate came from the
National Security Council. The head,
the Prime Minister, went public and
shared with you the mandate given to
the security forces."
On statistics on soldier abuse the
acting top cop said he had triple-
checked, even before the press con-
ference, and there were none.
"In relation to the very said people
who have complained in the domain
of the media, they have not made a
single complaint to any of the police
"I have no complaints in Central
Division. I have checked with Morvant,
Besson Street, Central Police Station
and there is no complaint from the
individuals," Williams said.
At last week s press conference
Williams said soldiers who went on
patrols and on operations on their own
were acting illegally and warned that
they could be arrested.
On whether Dillon "Bandy" Skeete,
said to be the target of searches by sol-
diers, was wanted for homicides,
Williams said that was not the case.
National Security Minister Gary
Griffith said yesterday retired Brig
Gen Ralph Brown had a political
agenda when he came out and
described soldier patrols in Laven-
tille as illegal.
Griffith was responding to crit-
icism of him on Tuesday by Inde-
pendent Senator Helen Drayton,
who defended Brown s statement.
He was speaking a media confer-
ence at his ministry, Abercromby
Drayton had said that Griffith
was "out of place" and "out of
sync" to attack Brown, who com-
mented in a letter to the editor on
She said the alleged abuse of
civilians by soldiers could under-
mine the process of justice.
But Griffith said: "If General
Brown was really worth his salt,
what he would have done is to con-
tact Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj,
as other people will do. That was
a deliberate political agenda and I
have a problem with that.
"What Major General Brown did
was wrong. It was inappropriate
and it was blatant disrespect to
the Defence Force and my job is
to protect them at all costs and to
ensure they go out there and do
Griffith expressed his disap-
pointment with Brown s state-
ments especially given his expert-
ise.The National Security Minister
said he was concerned by the fact
that there was a deliberate accu-
sation that soldiers were operating
He added: "And your way of
trying to deal with a situation is
to take all of them and tell them
to go back to barracks.
"That I think is disrespect to
the Defence Force... you are ques-
tioning their professionalism, their
performance and that is my con-
cern. My point is, do not point
fingers and accuse the Defence
Force of operating illegally,"
He said if there were concerns
that information should be taken
to the police.
Maharaj, who was also at the
press conference, described Brown
as a "respected predecessor" and
said since his departure from the
Defence Force in 1995 the envi-
ronment has changed significant-
ly.Contacted yesterday, Brown said
he had no further comment.
Griffith also criticised Drayton,
saying she had a problem with
every single decision made by the
Ministry of National Security.
'That's why soldiers pushed them aside'
Minister: Brown playing politics
Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, left, defends his soldiers'
occupation of Laventille during a press conference hosted by the Ministry of National
Security at Temple Court, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain. Looking on is National
Security Minister, Gary Griffith. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
now safest in years
Brown, in his letter to the editor,
labelled patrols by soldiers in
Laventille as illegal.
He called on Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar, as head of the
National Security Council, to bring a
halt to the patrols "and thrash out
this matter once and for all" with
acting Police Commissioner Stephen
Williams and Chief of Defence Staff
Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj over who
exactly ordered the patrols.
Brown wrote: "The acting
commissioner has ordered his
officers to arrest and charge any
soldier found committing an offence,
this in response to questions posed
to him by journalists about the
legality of soldiers patrolling
Laventille without policemen in
"The acting commissioner went
further to state that neither he nor
the Chief of Defence Staff has
ordered the patrols which are being
undertaken by the soldiers.
"If the soldiers are in fact
patrolling, it would be interesting to
know who ordered the patrols.
"It follows that if the acting
commissioner did not request the
patrols and the Chief of Defence
Staff did not order them, then the
patrols are in fact illegal under the
law, and as the acting commissioner
has stated, they should be arrested.
"This is a recipe for chaos and/or
confrontation between police and
soldiers, something we have worked
hard over the years at 'arresting.'"
WHAT BROWN SAID
Saying there was "great anxiety'
surrounding the authorisation of the
operations Maharaj said: "The Chief of
Defence Staff with the powers vested
in him is the authority for all operations
regarding members of the Defence
"The operations in Laventille and
environs constitute operations that are
authorised by the Chief of Defence
Staff. All operations in the Laventille
areas are considered legitimate
operations because they are in support
of the police."
On the purpose of soldiers in
Laventille given the fact they have no
powers of arrests Maharaj said over the
years in respect to joint operations and
given the changes in the national
security environment there has been a
"significant refinement" in the concept
There were three main features of
joint operations, he added, which
included a well-defined command and
control framework, a well-defined area
of operations in which common
missions and tasks were undertaken
and the understanding that primacy
resided with law enforcement.
Maharaj said the Defence Force was
investigating two reports made by two
men stemming from the operations and
these were ongoing probes.
Links Archive July 23rd 2014 July 25th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page