Jensen La Vende
ACTING Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob, on Tuesday, called on his officers not to allow the charging of eight of their colleagues to stop them from doing their jobs.
Speaking on TV6’s Beyond the Tape, Jacob said Tuesday was a sad day for Trinidad and Tobago and the police service in particular following the court appearance of the officers.
Sgt Joseph Solomon, Cpl Charles Budri and PCs Vaughn St Cyr, Sean Lord, Mark Lewis, Sherwin Baptiste, Colin Furlonge and Jameel Mohammed, were each charged with murdering Joel “Lion” Jacob, 38, his childhood friend Noel Diamond, 46 and Israel Moses Clinton, 27, at Juman Drive, Second Caledonia, Morvant on June 27, 2020.
“It is very difficult for us but we have to rise above the occasion, because this country is depending on us.
“It will have a significant psychological, mental effect on other officers when situations like these happen, but we need to continue holding the reins and doing what is required. Our social workers will play a very important part in supporting the officers and providing the necessary counselling not just for them but for their families in these situations.
“This is a time when the TT Police Service needs all hands on the deck to stop the scourge of criminality.”
He added that trust in the police fluctuates but he believed that the general consensus was that the population trusted the police and knew they were “professionals carrying out their duties and providing the country with security.”
He said there was a small group of citizens with access to media and social media with the loudest voice to influence others away from trusting police. He said that would not augur well for the service.
“We will be working with our officers because we don’t want them to be deterred and we know that they will not be deterred from carrying out their job and they will be able to face the challenges that exist out there.
CoP: Police will stick to use-of-force policy
“We will continue using our use-of-force policy, which is consistent with the Criminal Law Act that grants us the opportunity to use the necessary force.
“We have to re-enforce that to the officers because we don’t want the officers to reach the stage to be timid when they are out there which may result in injury to officers because they may be reluctant to act.”
He said the fact that the officers were charged is a sign that police were willing to act independently to do their duties professionally.
Asked if it was time to reconsider the police use of force policy, Jacob said no, adding that the current use of force policy is in alignment with the law. He added that constant training for officers is needed and done.
At a media briefing hours before his appearance on Beyond the Tape, Jacob, when asked if he believed the public trust had waned had a different answer saying he would have to await the results of research done, by “proper methods and not social-media methods.”
Earlier, head of the Northern Division, Snr Supt Winston Maharaj addressed another police-involved killing that took place in his division on Tuesday. In that incident a man identified as Mischack Ramdeen also known as Mishack Gibson of Blanchisseuse was killed.
Ramdeen, according to police, was in a white Nissan Almera with another man travelling along the Paria Main Road, La Fillette, at about 4 am when officers of the Blanchisseuse Police Station tried to stop the car.
Reports say the car sped off while police chased after it before the car stopped. Both men then came out shooting at police. Police returned fire hitting Ramdeen who was declared dead at the Port of Spain General Hospital. The other man escaped into nearby bushes and is being sought by police. A loaded Beretta pistol was recovered along with six rounds of ammunition.
Supt Maharaj: Raise children to avoid crime
This was one of two incidents that took place in the division on Tuesday where suspected criminals died. The other incident took place in El Socorro where a home-owner killed two of six gunmen who broke into his home.
Maharaj said, at about 4 am, a group of men went to the man’s home in a “well-planned operation” with three vehicles. The homeowner, a licensed gun owner, opened fire, hitting three of the intruders, of which two died. The others escaped.
The remaining injured bandit, a 17-year-old from Laventille, is warded at hospital in a serious condition.
Maharaj said the attempt was not the first such attempt in the division and police had put things in place to address the issue.
He then warned parents and guardians to raise their children in a way that they will not end up dead because of the criminal life they chose.
“While it is the duty of law enforcement to tackle such activity, we, as the police, want to appeal to citizens, particularly those misguided young people, to think long and hard before adopting this career of crime that appears to be glamorous. It is not! There are alternatives.”
He added that the ages of those involved are from 17 to 30. He said his officers will do their job and appealed to citizens to “do their part” by instilling good values and dissuade those criminally minded since a life of crime is no life at all.