Trinidad police denies claim it collected data on protesting teachers
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Monday denied allegations its members were made to collect data on teachers who were not present at school during last Friday’s “rest and reflection” industrial action called by trade unions.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said that the statement by the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodai that police officers collected data on teacher absenteeism was untrue.
“No such instruction was issued from the Commissioner of Police and further we have no such information that any senior member of the TTPS issued such an instruction to police officers, conducting patrols, to undertake a roll call of teachers,” Griffith said in a statement Monday, adding “the TTPS has absolutely no report at any police station of such a claim”.
Doodai told reporters that at least 65 to 70 per cent of teachers had stayed away from classes in support of the call by the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) to protest the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago government to shut down the refinery of the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN.
He said that in discussions with some principals, mainly in south Trinidad and the capital, they had complained that the police had entered their schools to collect data on the teachers’ attendance, which he described as an act of intimidation.
“It is frightening to hear about this because the ministry (of Education) has its own policy to collect such data. There is no need for the police to collect this data on attendance. We are concerned that police came to these schools. It was intimidation,” the TTUTA president said.
But, in his statement, Griffith, who was recently appointed to the top post, said he is encouraging the TTUTA president in an “effort to ensure transparency and accountability… to provide the description or names of the officers or the license plates of the police patrol vehicles in question, so that an appropriate investigation can be conducted”.
Griffith said this would ensure that if any officer did usurp his authority and act in such a manner, he would be disciplined accordingly.