Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Trinidad’s top cop probes police officers being affiliated to political parties

Published:Monday | February 10, 2020 | 11:21 AM
Trinidad's Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith - Contributed photo

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has launched an immediate investigation regarding police officers being affiliated to political parties after a newspaper reported that a cop police had been by-passed for contesting last year’s local government elections on behalf of the ruling People’s National Movement.

A police spokesperson in a statement reminded officers that when they join the TTPS “you immediately lose certain rights as a citizen. One of those rights is to openly show bias and support for political parties.”

The spokesperson said Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, is probing allegations of a police officer applying and being interviewed for a political post in a political party while being a serving member and then being quoted in the media of openly expressing his support and allegiance to the principles of the party.

It was noted that Section 40 of the Police Service Act states that “a police officer is disqualified from membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tobago House of Assembly or a Municipal Corporation”.

A police officer should also “not engage in any activity, occupation or undertaking which would impair his usefulness as an officer or in any way conflict with the interest of the Service” and “shall not without the consent of the Commissioner, accept any paid employment or engage in any trade or any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking, or undertake private work for remuneration, whether in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The legislation further states that any officer ‘who invests in or acquires shares in any company carrying on business in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago or who acquires any interest in any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago shall, within thirty days after his investment or acquisition, inform the Commissioner of the fact in writing.”

Section 139 of the legislation also states that an “officer shall not make any public expression of political and sectarian opinions, and shall bear himself with strict impartiality in all matters.”

Griffith was quoted as saying that there is good reason for such regulations, adding that while any citizen is free to express and voice their affiliation to any political party, on taking the oath as a police officer, “you lose certain rights, and rightly so, because at no time must any decision, action, arrest or the charging of anyone be seen or even perceived by the public, of the law enforcement institution acting and abusing their authority based on bias through being politically-aligned to any political party.”

He said that a police officer holds immense authority, which includes that power to take away the rights of freedom of other citizens, “hence at no time, must there even be the perception that an officer can and would use such authority to show any degree of bias in the performance of his duties.

“If one wants to have such rights to freely express his/her political alliance, and even to officially join, support, and represent any political party holding any political post, he/she must resign.

“Between the period of swearing such an oath, to when you tender your resignation from the TTPS, any such action could be seen as being biased and politically motivated, and also would be in breach of TTPS Regulations and relevant disciplinary action would be taken.”

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