For the Police Complaints Authority’s financial year, running from October 1, 2019, to September 25, 2020, 394 formal complaints were made to authority against officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
Most of the complaints during that period, according to PCA Director David West, were for assault. There was no full breakdown available for that period.
But, between October 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the PCA received 209 complaints. 185 complaints were for disciplinary offences. It is important to note that a single complaint may be assigned to multiple categories and a single police officer may be assigned multiple disciplinary offences.
Of the complaints laid against officers, 106 were for discreditable conduct, 81 were for the unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority, 72 for neglect of duty, 12 for corrupt practice, seven for disobedience to orders, three for falsehood or prevarication, three for insubordinate or oppressive conduct, two for drunkenness or drug-taking, two for being uncivil to a member of the public, one for drinking on duty or soliciting drink, and one for using any property or facility of the service without the written consent of the commissioner.
Another 122 complaints were for allegations of criminal activities by officers. Of those, 72 were for other criminal offences, 50 for assaults, 39 for fatal and non-fatal, 16 for firearm offences, 15 for fraud and corruption, 15 for larceny and seven for property damage.
According to the PCA’s 2019 Annual Report, between October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019, there were 611 total allegations against officers. 383 for serious police misconduct, 220 for the commission of a criminal offence by a police officer, and eight for police corruption.
The number of allegations that became formal complaints was 412.
Of that number, 191 were for serious police misconduct only, 186 for serious police misconduct and the commission of a criminal offence by a police officer, 27 for the commission of a criminal offence by an officer only, six for police corruption, serious police misconduct and the commission of a criminal offence by a police officer, one for police corruption only, and finally, one for police corruption and the commission of a criminal offence by a police officer.
According to the PCA, it completed 376 complaints between October 1, 2019 and September 25, 2020.
Three hundred and six were closed with no further action, 51 were forwarded to the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, 11 were forwarded to both the Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, seven were forwarded to the DPP only, and one was forwarded to the Police Service Commission.
Overall, the number of formal complaints in 2019-2020 declined from 2018-2019, which recorded 412 formal complaints.
Of the 2019-2020 figures, 119 complaints, or 30 per cent, were initiated by the Police Complaints Authority, while the remaining 275 complaints, 70 per cent, were initiated by a member of the public by walk-in, or via an electronic device.
In April and May of this year, when the Government enforced a non-essential activity ban to tackle the spread of COVID-19, there was not a single report made.
The two months after, however, saw a spike in reports, with 164 initial reports made in June and another 103 initial reports made in July.
Seventy-three proceeded as formal complaints in June and 77 in July.
In comparison, the third-highest number of initial reports made in a single month in the last two years was 77 in October 2019.
While the number of formal complaints decreased, initial reports increased from last year.
During the period October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019, there were 633 initial reports, compared to 702.
41 POLICE-INVOLVED KILLINGS IN 2020
While formal police complaints are down, the number of fatal police-involved shootings are up.
With two months still left in the year, and despite months of non-essential activity, more people have been killed in police shootings in 2020 than in any of the previous five years–41 as of September 25.
In comparison, the highest tally, since 2015, came in 2018 when 37 people were killed in police-involved shootings.
Unlike 2020, however, that number represented the entire calendar year, from January 1 to December 31.
In 2015, there were 17 killings, representing the lowest number in the six years.
In 2016, there were 28 killings; 36 killings in 2017; and 32 killings in 2019.
As it relates to non-fatal police-involved shooting incidents, there have been 21, thus far, in 2020.
That figure represents the same number for the entire of 2019.
In the previous five years, 2018 saw the hight number of non-fatal police-involved shootings with 28.
In 2015, there were 12 shootings; In 2016, 15 shootings; and 25 shootings in 2017.
The present police commissioner, Gary Griffith, was hired in August 2018.
Before his hiring, former Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams served in the position from 2012 until 2018.
The PCA director said he had no comments, at this time, about the figures.