Transcript of the interview on i95.5fm with Dale Enoch (DE), Anthony Lee Aping (ALA) and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams (SW) on Friday, May 23, 2014.
DE: Well we do have on the line the Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, good morning to you acting Commissioner Williams.
SW: Good morning Mr Dale.
DE: We are, I mean there are so many things to follow, but we are concerned, obviously, re the situation with the journalist, Mark Bassant. And we have confirmation and I think you are aware as well, of him having toÖ
ALA: (speaking simultaneously with DE)
Leave the countryÖ
DE: ...seek shelter, so to speak, because of death threats. How do you view this Mr Commissioner?
SW: Well, firstly I will like to confirm that a report was made by Mr Mark Bassant to the head of the Criminal, Gang and Intelligence Unit. Based on what he has alleged is a threat made against his life ... that matter is right now being investigated by the Criminal, Gang and Intelligence Unit but for me, any threat against any citizen of this land is a serious matter and we take it seriously and we pursue these matters vigorously. So the Criminal, Gang and Intelligence Unit is pursuing this investigation and is treating it with the utmost level of responsibility that is supposed to be assigned to a matter like this.
ALA: Acting Commissioner, Mr Bassant in his report also talked about other names on a list, are you aware of this?
SW: Well I am unaware of what Mr Bassant is speaking about.
And there are a lot of, if you can call it, statements and utterances by Mr Bassant which have been very irresponsible of him. Things which are incorrect, which I know as a fact are incorrect, for which I canít just put into the public domain, but based on where, the office I hold and my access to information, I know are incorrect. And some of that may also have triggered the issue of a threat to Mr Mark Bassant.
But setting aside that, the Police Service has a responsibility, regardless of whom a threat is made against, we have to treat with it seriously and we are so doing.
DE: So you are saying that some of that irresponsibleness on the part of Mr Bassant may have led to the kind of threats that he is reportedly receiving?
SW: There is a possibility.
DE: Mr Bassant also talks about police involvement and having to give information to police and then he said the police, some police officers, leaking it to the underworld. How do you feel about that? Is that one of those irresponsible statements you think was made?
SW: No Iím not, Iím not saying that I am unaware of Mr Bassantís linkage to some police officers. It is clear to me that some police officers have been doing wrong things by even furnishing Mr Mark Bassant information. So there, you know, so when you have irresponsible officers, officers who are involved in wrongdoings and are furnishing Mark Bassant information and may be furnishing other persons with information that is a major concern for the Police Service and a major concern for me who is leading the Police Service. So we must do everything possible to try to weed the organisation, weed those persons out of the organisation.
DE: Now it does, it does throw some light in a corner, that a corner of darkness for the police service itself. Because it means that if we are to believe anything that has been said re the police officers and their involvement, that police officers are feeding, as well, not just Mark Bassant or other journalists, but may be feeding people who are criminals.
SW: And, and I am saying I will not, I will not deny that, because it is well known to this country that Trinidad and Tobago Police Service does in fact have errant officers and it is an obligation on my part and that of the organisation to, to cleanse the organisation of officers like those so we are not, we are not covering to say that we donít have officers who are irresponsible, errant, act in, in straightforward language, along the pathway of criminality.
So that is why you know as an organisation we have to do everything possible within the shortest period of time of doing what I would call cleansing.
But there is, there is things which you have to do in keeping with the laws of the land as you seek out cleansing. If it was easy that everyone that you have mere suspicions on I could have simply fired them, I would have done that already. But it may amount to misbehaviour in public office which is a criminal offence for the commissioner of police to do something like that.
ALA: Are you satisfied with the efforts so far, Mr Acting Commissioner, in terms of the approach being taken with Bassant, because this is a freedom of the press issue which is beginning to get international attention.
SW: I am fully satisfied that the investigation in relation to the allegation made by Mark Bassant is being pursued in a professional manner and it is being given the kind of attention, effort and resources that are necessary to treat with it. So I am fully satisfied.
DE: I, I notice, I take note of where the complaint went, the official complaint went, in terms of the head of the Intelligence Unit and, and is, is this possible, possibly gang related in some way? You think?
SW: Well I canít say why he chose to advance the report to the Criminal, Gang and Intelligence Unit head. So I canít say why. But that is a possibility.