Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has taken issue with the use of “comfort police—untrained, unknown people driving around in strange cars” throughout neighbourhoods, “pretending to be police”.
Speaking at a public meeting at Massy Stores car park in St Augustine on Tuesday night, Rowley said the country was in disorder and if anyone needed proof they just had to look at the news conference held by Sport Minister Anil Roberts on Tuesday.
“Here is a minister of Government...taking public battle to his colleague, the Minister of National Security...on the simple matter as to whether a cricket team should carry the name of Trinidad and Tobago and whether it was unauthorised or not.
“The behaviour of one minister to another should tell you that the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago is a Cabinet of dog(s), cat(s), rat(s) and mongoose,” Rowley said. “No Cabinet could function efficiently when one minister is raging guerilla war against another in public and that is what is going on here,” he added.
Rowley said the disorder was led by the “queen of disorder” (the Prime Minister). He said Government’s latest plan was “comfort police”. “I come out of my gate...I see this strange car coming down the hill...And the car drove up to my gate and it contained two fellas unknown to me in red shirts and they not PNM.
“Then I see a little thing on the door (marked) ‘comfort police’...I acknowledged the young men and they said something to me about patrolling my area to give me comfort. When did the Police Service relinquish the requirement to secure me and give me comfort in my neighbourhood?” Rowley asked.
“When the Government has picked up people on the side of the road, put them in normal, unmarked motor vehicles—I don’t know who trained them, I don’t know if they are armed, I don’t know who they are—and send them into neighbourhoods to replace the Police Service, that should tell you the Government has come to the conclusion that the Police Service has failed, has collapsed and you are now naked and exposed to anybody,” he said.
Rowley said anyone can put on a red shirt and drive through neighbourhoods saying they are comfort police and do anything if they are so inclined. “And the next problem in this country is that they become a problem,” he said.
“I want to ask the Government tonight, are they armed? Can they stop and search anybody? Are they trained in policing? Are they covered by the immunities act? But most importantly how many millions of dollars you paying for them to rent the cars to run from Sangre Grande to Toco? And who is receiving the money for recruiting those persons? And who are these people you have recruited to play police?” Rowley asked.
Rowley said the Police Service was “headless”. He said the acting Commissioner of Police, who on Monday got another six-month extension, was on “permanent ten-days”. He asked what was stopping the Government from making an appointment to CoP since in the fighting of crime there was no substitute to an efficient, properly functioning and well-run Police Service.
He said three years after the Prime Minister promised to address the issue of the process in the appointment of a Police Commissioner, the matter is still unresolved.