Monday, January 22, 2018

Top cop: PM does not instruct police


‘High risk job’: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams

Mark Fraser

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has said “the Prime Minister doesn’t give the Police Service instructions”.

He made the comment in an interview aired on TV6 News last night in response to a question about Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s declaration last week: “The order is out, we must unleash the dogs of war upon those who seek to flout the law and create havoc. We must bring them to their knees, we must give them no quarter.”

Williams was asked what was his interpretation of that declaration which contains a quote from Shakespeare’s play Julius Cesear.

He was also asked what the public could expect from that instruction from Persad-Bissessar in her capacity as the Head of the National Security

“Well, the Prime Minister doesn’t give the Police Service instructions nor the Minister of National Security give the Police Service instructions so when you ask the question about the instructions from the Head of the National Security Council, that’s not how it works. What Government does is identify policy direction for the Police Service. So the speech is not a reflection of a policy direction,” Williams said.

He was interviewed just after Persad-Bissessar opened the new police station in Piarco last week.

During that event, Persad-Bissessar spoke of what was at that time the deaths of 26 persons who died during shoots outs police said they had with suspects who fired on them first as eyewitnesses and some relatives of the deceased claim otherwise.

Among those who died during such police involved shoot outs were cousins Tevin Alexander 15, and Hakeem Alexander, 16.

Persad-Bissessar said: “Where there are allegations of injustice by the Police Service “an independent and proper investigation must be conducted and should there be evidence of guilt, those officers those offenders, will face the full brunt of the law.”

However, she also reminded the public that 63 police officers had been shot in the last two years, some of whom died.

Asked about the issue of police killings, Williams said there are “a lot of firearms out there in the hands of criminals”

“Criminals are not coming from Mars, they all have family and anytime there is an incident with a loss of life people will be concerned but it is not as presented where police are out there and police are seeking to kill people, that’s not it,”

He said the police are carrying out a high risk job where violence exists.

“People are shooting at police officers in situations police have to defend themselves and also defend the citizens of this land and we can’t turn our back and say, well ok, since the public raising issues around shooting incidents we will stop carrying out our responsibility that the State has bestowed on us,” Williams said.

TV6 News reported his explanation last week that every police shooting is investigated.

“A first division officer is assigned, so we don’t leave it to a constable or a corporal to investigate it, a first division officer is assigned to investigate it. We put a further layer, we have brought the professional standards bureau to oversee investigations in relation to police shootings, there is a third layer, the Police Complaints Authority,” Williams said.

Last week, TV6 News also reported Williams also said the balance between the police knowing when they should and should not use their firearms must be struck by training and professional conduct.

“Because when you join the police Service you know it’s a high risk job. So people come into the Police Service knowing for a fact there will be situations and once you act professionally, you are basically protected under the law. There is no protection for somebody who acts unprofessionally and kill innocent citizens,” Williams said.