ACTING Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says he does not see the need for soldiers who are to be given powers of arrest to undergo training for a period of six months.
The soldiers are to be precepted to assist the police in the fight against crime under the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill.
Reiterating his support for the initiative, Williams yesterday said the proposed six-month period is unnecessary since the soldiers would not be carrying out the functions of police officers. "That's (the six-month period) the full training that we expose a recruit to in the Police Service," Williams said.
Williams was speaking with reporters following a graduation ceremony for over 70 police officers who received training in basic criminal investigations and interrogation techniques, in collaboration with the United States Embassy in Port of Spain. The ceremony was held at the Police Training Academy, St James, Port of Spain.
The Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill, previously called the Defence (Amendment) Bill, is intended to give members of the Defence Force police powers of arrest. It was passed in the House of Representatives on March 15, and is to be debated in the Senate next week.
The proposed legislation has not found favour with the Police Social and Welfare Association, led by Sgt Anand Ramesar, but Williams said yesterday he is focusing on the principle. "I have to find the ways and means to control crime in Trinidad and Tobago," Williams said.
"The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is short by 1,500 officers. If I am in a position to get assistance from the Defence Force, why should I refuse that assistance?
"And it is in that context I am saying I appreciate the opportunity of the Defence Force personnel working with the Police Service because they have been doing that for the past ten years."