MEMBERS of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Social and Welfare Association were joined on Wednesday night by Fixin T&T's Kirk Waithe during a candle-light vigil on Brian Lara Promenade, near the statue of Captain AA Cipriani, in Port of Spain to highlight the association's dissatisfaction with the proposed Defence (Amendment) Bill, which will allow members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force to be precepted to serve alongside the police.
The vigil began shortly after 6 p.m. and approximately 15 officers lit candles and held hands and prayed that the bill not be implemented.
Officers opposed to the bill initially proposed that they stage a march to highlight their displeasure, but this was shot down by acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, who did not allow such a move. However, he did give the green light for the vigil.
Speaking to the Express, Waithe said, "an unacceptable crime situation can and must be fixed without offending our Constitution and putting the rights of citizens at risk.
"We maintain that if there is a desire for any army personnel to engage in police work those officers must either: 1, sever ties with the army and apply to become members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service under the exclusive direction and purview of the Commissioner of Police, or 2, be seconded to the Police Service for a specified period, during which they fall under the exclusive direction or purview of the Commissioner of Police".
Other association members said one of their main issues was not merely a lack of manpower, but rather the unwillingness of the elder heads within the service to embrace new crime-fighting techniques which rely heavily on intelligence gathered, which would allow for a more efficient deployment of their resources.
"This is one of our biggest problems," said an officer of the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch who did not want to be named.