Jacob firm on rogue officers: Assistant police commissioner charged with misconduct

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Assistant Commissioner of Police Nazrudeen Pragg – Photo courtesy TTPS

THE Police Service holds firmly to the rule of law.

Acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) McDonald Jacob reinforced this point on Saturday in reference to an Assistant Commissioner of Police being charged with two offences of misbehaviour in public office on Friday.

In a statement on Saturday, the police said ACP Nazrudeen Pragg, a member of the police executive, was charged on Friday with two offences of misbehaviour in public offence after he recommended a soldier and a civilian be exempt from vehicle tint regulations on the false premise that they were employed as intelligence officers of the police.

Pragg who was released on $200,000 bail by a justice of the peace will be suspended from duty pending the outcome of the case, senior officers said.

In a brief comment on this matter, Jacob said, “We adhere to the rule of law and we take into consideration of innocence until people are charged.”

He added, “The Police Service continues to demonstrate that it can investigate its own, as an independent and autonomous body.”

Jacob congratulated officers of the Professional Standards Bureau for their ongoing work in this regard.

In its statement, the police said Pragg was charged with two offences after investigators got advice from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard SC.

The first offence alleged Pragg knowingly entered false and misleading information on an application form issued by the Transport Division of the Works and Transport Ministry for a tinted window exemption certificate for a black Kia Sportage.

The applicant is a civilian but indicated on the application form to being employed with the police as an intelligence officer, to procure an exemption certificate from the Transport Commissioner.

The second offence was seeking a tinted window exemption certificate from the Transport Commissioner for a Nissan Navara. In this instance, the applicant is a member of the Defence Force but applied as an intelligence officer with the police to gain an exemption.

Pragg, 59, of Preysal, Couva, was last assigned as the head of the Central Intelligence Bureau, which has responsibility for the Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit, covert intelligence unit, Interpol, counter-trafficking unit among other departments. He is due to appear at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court on June 30.

The charges laid against Pragg come against the background of public concern about the actions of other officers.

In September 2020, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) completed its preliminary investigation into the allegations of unusual financial transactions involving Deputy Commissioner of Police Irwin Hackshaw, now retired, and sent its findings to the DPP. The allegations against Hackshaw surround claims that he deposited close to $2 million in his personal bank accounts received from several businesses on the premise that they were donations to help offset the costs of official police functions.

ACP Nazrudeen Pragg –

In June 2020, there was public outrage over the police killing of three Morvant residents – Joel Jacobs, Noel Diamond and Israel Moses Clinton which was captured on security cameras.

Seven of the officers who fired their weapons in that incident were suspended from active duty following a recommendation by the PCA. Then police commissioner Gary Griffith assigned another 11 officers involved in that matter to desk duty. That matter is nearing completion before the file is sent to the DPP for advice, police said.

Earlier this month, an acting corporal and two other officers were suspended after a ballistics report revealed that the bullet which killed PC Clarence Gilkes came from a police gun during an incident at Rich Plain, Diego Martin.

Gilkes, 44, was part of a team of 12 officers assigned to the Western Division Task Force, who responded to a report of men armed with high-powered rifles at Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin on April 22.

Police initially claimed that they were fired upon by a group of men and returned fire. They claimed Gilkes was killed by the assailants and launched a manhunt for the suspects.

A post-mortem report later revealed Gilkes was shot in the neck from behind.

Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke declined to comment on the Pragg matter but he made general comments about tinted windows on vehicles and matters related to it.

“The moratorium on tint will soon come to an end. I think it’s supposed to be on July 1.” New tint regulations were supposed to come into effect at the end of December but a three-month moratorium was placed on this due to the covid19 pandemic. The moratorium was subsequently extended for another three months.

The tint regulations deal with minimum levels of visible light transmittance (VLT). They include windscreen – at least 70 per cent VLT, windscreen’s anti-blare band or visor – (width of six inches or 15 cm from top of windscreen) – at least 35 per cent VLT, front windows (driver and passenger) – at least 35 per cent VLT, rear windows (including side windows) – at least 20 per cent VLT and rear windscreen – at least 20 per cent VLT

A person who contravenes these regulations commits a traffic violation and is liable to a fine of $5,000.

There is also a process for the approval of window tints beyond the legal limit.

Clarke said, “What is more important though, is that we need to be mindful that every vehicle has a legal limit for tint.” He added that the law states that people who do not want to use this limit, must apply to the transport commissioner.

On its website, the Works and Transport Ministry said individuals or businesses who wish to apply for an exemption certificate on the condition of medical grounds or safety and security, must download the tint exemption application forms using the link http://www.mowt.gov.tt/Divisions/Transport-Division/Forms on the Ministry’s website www.mowt.gov.tt.

Clarke said the people or entities have to “provide the necessary justification and rationale as to why they need the tint to be darker than the legal limit.”

Vehicles for which a darker tint is being sought are brought in for assessment. Clarke said some people have their vehicles tinted but may not know their tint is within the legal limit.

According to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, certain vehicles are exempt from using the levels of tint outlined in the regulations.

These include vehicles used by the President or Prime Minister (in their official or personal capacity); an ambulance registered under the Emergency Ambulance Services and Emergency Medical Personnel Act and vehicles owned by the police, Fire Service, Prison Service; Defence Force, Customs and Excise Division, Strategic Services Agency; a protective service agency governed by the Supplemental Police Act; undertakers or funeral homes or vehicles receiving written approval from the Licensing Authority.