Public confidence in the Police Service took another hit this week, with officers from the Chaguanas Robbery Squad being charged with … robbery. And false imprisonment. Of a 51 year old man. It is a classic case of criminality and abuse of power.
According to reports, the acting sergeant and two constables approached the man on June 6th as he went to purchase a vehicle. They demanded $50,000 from him, kept him against his will and forced him to make a number of phone calls to associates requesting additional money to secure his release. These officers are a disgrace to the uniform, and a stain on the Service.
But, how were they even allowed into the ranks in the first place? Are recruits vetted properly before being allowed into the service? If so, what is this vetting process like? Can it be stricter? Should we demand more in terms of qualifications for those wanting to be officers? It is about time the job of “police officer” go to those genuinely interested in doing the job, instead of those who see it as “an option”. Over the years, there have been allegations in the public domain that persons with criminal records being allowed entry into the TTPS. This is an issue that needs to be examined, and either debunked, or confirmed and fixed.
This incident also gives rise to another issue: it is high time forstrict punishments to be meted out to police officers who become involved in criminal activities. This is simply due to the fact that officers aren’t ordinary citizens. Their uniforms and badges give them an authority that others do not possess. That authority should be considered sacred and must be jealously guarded against corruption. Therefore any officer caught abusing their power or engaged in criminal activity should face unique penalties, not just the standard legal punishment for a crime that may have been committed.
When he first took office, the Police Commissioner vowed to stamp out criminal elements. He insisted there must be no weak links, and those caught on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with. We have seen steps being taken in this regard, and we intend to hold him to his promise. Citizens already have enough terror to deal with. They should not have to face the same from those sworn to protect them.