Police Social and Welfare Association president Inspector Gideon Dickson

As murders, carjacking and robberies continue, President of the Police Social Welfare Association ASP Gideon Dickson says the continued absence of an acting or substantive Commissioner of Police (CoP) puts lives at risk.

Speaking on the Morning Panchayat on Aakash Vani 106.5 FM yesterday, Dickson said it was also bad for the government as it affects investor confidence in Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, he called on politicians involved in appointing a new CoP to act mature and swiftly.

“We want to call on the authorities to remedy this situation in the shortage possible time. That is to have in place either an acting Commissioner or a confirmed Commissioner of Police. We also want to call on the authorities and, more so, the parliamentarians to put in place a service commission to facilitate this process,” Dickson said.

Noting it was the first time that T&T was without a CoP, Dickson said the Association feels the Police Service (TTPS) is in an untenable situation.

He reminded that it is a Commissioner of Police’s role and function to ensure the management of the TTPS based on the Constitution.

“One must remember that national security is big business, and safety and security in a country is one in which you cannot compromise. The authorities need to understand that compromising national security means you are putting people lives, not just your own people but also those who are looking to have investor confidence in your country, at risk. We are calling on the authorities to rise to the occasion. Be mature and treat with this at a level of urgency that it so deserves.”

Asked whether the lack of leadership affects the morale of the TTPS, Dickson commended police officers for their devotion to duty. He said from 2019 to the present, police workload increased, but officers delivered by suppressing crime and overcoming all incidents they faced. It was on the backdrop of police officers not having the best working conditions.

He said officers are facing several issues, chief among them – officers were living on 2013 salaries.

He said they also have problems getting incremental pay, medical insurance, back pay for Special Reserve Police and gratuity and pension for retirees.

Dickson said the public should judge the TTPS based on its performance but should also consider the limitations officers face. In terms of the operational effectiveness of the TTPS, he said there is room for improvement regarding vehicles, ink, toners and computers, so officers can continue to enhance their delivery of service.

The president of the Police Social Welfare Association said the group understands that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability to upgrade processes. However, officers were able to rise to the challenges to assist in the fight against the virus while suppressing crime.

“If the members of the public could assess the delivery of service by the police officers, by and large, we understand that the police is the public and the public is the police. We have constantly been able to deliver high-quality service despite all our limitations.”