Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says he has launched an immediate investigation into recent allegations of a police officer applying and being interviewed for a political post in a political party.
The claim was made in a media report published today.
In a release, the Top Cop says persons joining the TTPS “immediately lose certain rights as a citizen”, one of which is to openly show bias and support for political parties.
He quoted several sections of the Police Service Act:
Section 40, Chapter 15:01
“A police officer is disqualified from membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tobago House of Assembly, or a Municipal Corporation.”
(a) shall not engage in any activity, occupation or undertaking which would impair his usefulness as an officer or in any way conflict with the interest of the Service;
(b) shall not without the consent of the Commissioner, accept any paid employment or engage in any trade or any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking, or undertake private work for remuneration, whether in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago;
(c) who invests in or acquires shares in any company carrying on business in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago or who acquires any interest in any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago shall, within thirty days after his investment or acquisition, inform the Commissioner of the fact in writing.”
“An officer shall not make any public expression of political and sectarian opinions, and shall bear himself with strict impartiality in all matters.”
The CoP believes there is good reason for such regulations.
He says while citizens are free to express and voice their affiliation to any political party, police officers hold immense authority, including the power to take away the rights of freedom of other citizens.
As such, he says at no time, must there even be the perception that an officer can and would use such authority to show any degree of bias in the performance of his duties.
He adds that if an officer wants to have such rights to freely express his/her political alliance, and even to officially join, support, and represent any political party holding any political post, then he/she must resign.
He also warns that any breach of TTPS Regulations could lead to the relevant disciplinary action.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Commissioner Griffith says while this situation is more glaring than others, this is not the first such instance of police officers expressing their support for political parties.
According to the TTPS release, just a few weeks ago, one officer was cautioned by the CoP as it pertained to him showing open support to one political party and making scathing attacks to the other via social media.
The officer reportedly stated that it is his right to say and support which political party he feels to, which the Top Cop says clearly shows that some officers are not aware of the Regulations in the TTPS.
He also reveals that another investigation is ongoing of reports of a police officer in Tobago who has also openly expressed his support for one political party, with reports of him trying to influence citizens to support that said political party.
And with the General Election on the horizon, the CoP has emphasized that while officers have the right to covertly support and vote for any political party of their choice, no officer will be allowed to breach the regulations by openly support or attack any political party.