Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gibbs intervenes to resolve dispute

'Forceful' entry into union office...

Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs has intervened to resolve a dispute between his own officers and a team appointed by the Police Complaints Authority to investigate claims of excessive use of force during a raid at the headquarters of the Transport and Industrial Workers' Union.

According to Director of the Authority Gillian Lucky documents taken away from her investigators by Assistant Commissioner of Police Raymond Craig last Friday outside the Besson Street Police Station have been returned.

Lucky held a one-hour meeting with Gibbs at Police Headquarters, Sackville Street, Port of Spain yesterday to discuss the issue.

"The public has to be assured that there will be no compromise to the investigation and that the PCA is fulfilling its duties and functions," said Lucky during an interview with TV6 yesterday.

Lucky had called for a meeting with Gibbs after an incident on Friday where Craig reportedly demanded that investigators from the Police Complaints Authority hand over all their documents to him.

Both teams were appointed to investigate a complaint of excessive use of force by police officers who broke into the union's Laventille office in search of a watchman wanted on an outstanding warrant for failing to pay child support.

According to Lucky, the incident, and specifically the behaviour of the police officers was not discussed but instead how it could have been better dealt with and how to prevent future incidents.

"At the end of the day it was recognised that we are operating in a shared space and people must know the protocols," she said.

Lucky was asked by Gibbs to put together a draft of protocols which will deal with not only investigators going to police stations, but how certain documents have to be retrieved from the police station and what would be the process in terms of how they are photocopied.

That draft should be submitted to the Commissioner by next week.

"When he receives it he will give it consideration once it reaches consensus, it will make it part of a departmental order and then we won't have this again," Lucky said.

Lucky has been concerned with the increasing incidents of excessive force by the police in recent times including an incident at Panorama semi finals at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

It has led her to inquire into the police's use of force policy, how it's taught and how it's implemented throughout the service. That issue was also raised with the Commissioner yesterday. Lucky says Gibbs is concerned.

"The Commissioner of Police did indicate that he is concerned about all the allegations of use of force by the police and he's looking into it," she said.

"I won't go on further because that's a matter best answered by him but it did come up in the discussion."

Calls to Gibbs' phone went unanswered yesterday.