Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sinister 'Flying Squad'


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The shocking discovery of the unauthorised existence of a quasi-police outfit calling itself the "New Flying Squad Investigation Unit" (NFSIU) is a deeply disturbing development which requires answers from the Prime Minister down.

The core question here is on what or whose authority did retired Inspector Mervyn Cordner and his "Flying Squad" team involve themselves in the investigation of criminal matters?

Mr Cordner claims that he and his team functioned on the request of National Security Minister Jack Warner.

In response, Minister Warner has denied knowledge about the very existence of the unit.

The emerging evidence, however, indicates a worrying level of involvement between Cordner's squad and the Ministry of National Security which warrants a serious investigation. The admission by the director of the National Security Operations Centre, Gavin Heerah, that he facilitated the procuring of vehicles for Cordner's unit from an unidentified "individual" is an acknowledgement that the ministry was, at the very minimum, aware of the squad's existence and supported its work.

One property owner has also confirmed meeting with ministry officials who were interested in renting his property for the "squad". Other information suggests that the Special Reserve Police Act may have been the legal device used in employing members of the team.

Given the conflicting stories, we urge Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to leave no stone unturned in conducting an independent investigation into this matter. Caught between a former member of a discredited police unit and a minister with an international reputation for being "economical with the truth", the public is depending on Commissioner Williams to hunt down the facts and bring them out into the open for all to see. The public interest deserves no less.

Of equal concern to the Commissioner should be the claim made by Mr Cordner that his unit assisted in solving a number of major crimes. This is a serious matter with implications for each of the cases in which the "Flying Squad" may have involved itself. How were these investigations conducted? What methods legal or otherwise were used in accessing information? How did the information find its way into the processing of cases? All these are matters that impact on the integrity of the operations of the Police Service and the Commissioner's own authority. As such, one expects that his investigation will also attempt to uncover the possible infiltration of the "squad" into the police service.

Given the seriousness of this matter, Minister Warner should know that it is not enough to simply deny knowledge of Mr Cordner's squad. However, if he insists on sticking to his story, the public would expect him to immediately launch a probe into the involvement of ministry officials in the establishment of Cordner's squad.

It has been about three weeks now since the existence of this sinister unit was exposed by the media. One expects that by now, the Prime Minister would have called on the Minister for a full report on the matter.

We wait to hear her own findings as well.