ACTING Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday shot down claims by Police Social and Welfare Association president Anand Ramesar that he (Williams) was in disagreement with Government's plan to precept soldiers.
In a statement yesterday, Williams said he had no objection to members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force being granted powers of arrest for a fixed period of time as this would enhance the performance of Defence Force personnel during joint patrols.
Last Friday night, the renamed Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill was passed in the House of Represen-tatives, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
The bill, which was previously called the Defence (Amendment) Bill, was designed to give members of the Defence Force police powers of arrest and is expected to be debated in the Upper House next week.
Williams said he met with Sgt Ramesar and his team and they agreed that, "providing members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force with powers of arrest is not essential in the fight against crime".
But Williams noted that the Police Service had a manpower shortage of approximately 1,500 officers which "adversely impacts its effectiveness".
He explained that over the last ten years, Defence Force personnel have been supporting the police in joint patrols, especially in areas affected by high levels of violent crimes.
Even though the police have been consistently working beyond their normal 40-hour work week, violent crimes have increased in 2013.
Williams said his support of Defence Force members being provided with powers of arrest had been his position "even before the bill was presented to the Parliament".
In response yesterday, Ramesar said they were disappointed with the position taken by Williams.
"Clearly this acting CoP has not only run out of ideas as it relates to what can be done to combat crime in Trinidad and Tobago. He has also constructively released himself of the reins of leadership in this organisation," he said.