Hinds to get policy on firearm licences on Tuesday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. –

LAUREL V WILLIAMS

ON TUESDAY, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds expects to get a written gun policy as it relates to the issuing of firearm users’ licences to the public from the director of the ministry’s Office of Law Enforcement Policy (OLEP), Gale Charles.

Hinds said: “I am assured that I will have that final product on Tuesday. I will be taking it to the Cabinet and the National Security council. I hope that it will be approved.”

He said police commissioners in the future and whoever is responsible based on what the Cabinet accepts from those recommendations would be guided by that policy.

He assured the policy “very professionally and swiftly executed” by OLEP.

Hinds was speaking on Sunday during the Eye on Dependency radio show on i95.5 FM.

He said requested the policy because of public concerns.

“It was clear to me that in the 1970s, when we (the country) established the Firearms Act, we never had a written policy. Different commissioners operated it differently,” Hinds said.

Hinds said there were consultations with all the relevant stakeholders such as the police, defence force, and people involved in the licensing process.

The minister said Cabinet agreed to an audit of the firearms registry of the police service as there were many allegations, including bribery.

He said when police recover guns, or when people are killed, ballistic testing is very critical and the police have been making some headway on this.

Hinds said based on the findings on two audits on the Forensic Science Centre, the ministry has begun “specific work” to provide staff with the resources they need to get them to optimum efficiency, which he said, is critical in criminal justice.

He also commended acting Police Commission McDonald Jacob and his team, saying the police service, in his view, is coming alive.

“I am seeing within recent months, they are beginning to solve a lot more murders,” Hinds said.

He recalled a conversation with Jacob, who told him 32 per cent of the murders in 2021, and within recent times, were related to domestic issues.

“This is why the police have put in place what Mr Jacob call a community justice clinic where lawyers come in once a month under the behest of the police and offer free legal,” Hinds said.

Hinds was concerned of reports from retired police officers who are having difficulty getting their pension.

“I consider that to be a high priority. For bureaucratic and administrative reasons, sometimes files are transferred all over. This is why (DCP) Joanne Archie has been leading the charge in ensuring that this matter is brought to heal.”

Hinds also announced that the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Corinth campus is expected to be used as local and international training facility for the military.

Hinds said, “I have on my desk now contemplation to create a military academy to carry on training not only for our personnel but for personnel around the world.”

The campus was handed over to the Defence Force (TTDF) on February 26, last year.