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Ramesar: Police must wear bulletproof vests

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

It should become mandatory for police officers to wear bulletproof vests while on duty, according to president of the Police Service Social Welfare Association, Sgt Anand Ramesar.

Ramesar's statement came in response to Tuesday's killing of Sgt Hayden Manwaring in San Fernando during an attempted arrest of robbery suspects.

Manwaring died from a bullet to the chest that caused massive internal bleeding.

"The issue of bulletproof vests is one that has plagued the Police Service," said Ramesar. "And up to this point in time, we have not got it right in terms of outfitting police officers with bulletproof vests that support proper functionality, as well as effectiveness."

He said there were many instances where bulletproof vests were not delivered to police officers and, if this occurred in Manwaring's case, then the Police Service must be held partially responsible for his death.

Ramesar said despite the Police Service knowing of the risks from criminals and gangs, there was no clear policy to mandate officers to wear the protective gear.

"As there is no sanction, there is no culture in the Police Service where wearing your vest is like second nature. You really want a culture that might be available now, by some negative or positive reinforcement, where you continuously start to wear your vest."

Ramesar said the new uniform proposed to Minister of National Security Jack Warner and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams comes equipped with bulletproof vests.

He said his association approved the uniforms.

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