Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday expressed concern over the number of police killings but urged citizens to not jump to conclusions and attack the police as they are honourable men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve.
She was speaking at the opening of a new $39 million Piarco Police Station where she observed there was heated debate with respect to police killings.
Twenty-six persons have been killed by the police for the year to date, the latest being cousins Kevin Alexander, 15 and Hakeem Alexander, 16, a Carifta Games medallist.
The Prime Minister said rogue cops will not be tolerated in the Police Service and if there is evidence against any officer as it relates to police killings, he or she will face the full brunt of the law.
“Where there are allegations of injustice by the Police Service, an independent and proper investigation must be conducted and should there be any evidence of guilt, those officers, those offenders will face the full brunt of the law. We will not tolerate rogue officers and they must be stamped out wherever they are found,” said Persad-Bissessar.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and other agencies, she said, have their work cut out.
“Having said that I ask that we do not jump to conclusions, I have read with concern in more than passing interest of the number of people shot and some killed by police officers. It troubles me to think of anyone, no matter how misguided and cruel, losing their lives regardless of how justified it might have been. It is tragic,” said Persad-Bissessar.
She pointed out she has not seen in the media a list of the number of police officers who were wounded or killed while on duty.
Persad-Bissessar said she was informed there were about 63 male and female officers who were victims of shooting with intent, and wounding, and some were killed in the last two years.
She noted a newspaper reported where a police officer was quoted as saying, “They can shoot at me but I am going home alive to my wife tonight.”
“That is a grave poignant reminder that our police officers are family members too, they face daily a disturbing level of violence and brutality,” said Persad-Bissessar.
“In the morning they kiss their wives or husbands as the case may be, their children, their mothers and fathers, they say goodbye, they hope to come home safely every single day and night,” she continued.
“Today I ask you to pay tribute to those men and women in uniform who protect and serve and defend us as citizens,” she added.
The Prime Minister said policing was a noble profession as officers have a duty to protect the people 24 hours a day and they have been working hard making drug busts, arrests and tackling robberies.
Persad-Bissessar said people forget the noble acts of the police.
“Sometimes they sit in their patrol cars and allow a tired driver half hour, 45 minutes rest, preventing what could have resulted in (an) accident caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel,” said Persad-Bissessar.