UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaking at a Monday night report. PHOTO COURTESY UNC –
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar alleged that rogue police officers were extorting individuals across TT but said her proposed “stand-your-ground” laws could reduce the chances of this happening to home-owners who had legitimately defended themselves from home invasion by bandits.
She told a UNC Monday Night Report at Gasparillo Secondary School in the Tabaquite constituency on Monday that most police officers were decent and honest, but seemingly referred to a recent case in Sangre Grande of police officers demanding money from a business proprietor.
“Current self-defence laws are not enough.”
She said the population could not leave it up to the subjective discretion of the particular police officer investigating to decide on the validity of a home owner’s self-defence claim.
“We have seen rogue police officers extorting citizens. Remember a recent case. They are coming to you. Extortion. If you don’t pay them extortion money, they will ‘do for you’.
“Imagine you defend your family and every month some rogue police officer is coming to extort money under the threat to prosecute you, because it’s up to his discretion.
“Everyone here knows it happens all over the country. There are excellent, good police officers but there are also rogue elements in the police service.”
She promised a future UNC government would bring stand your ground legislation.
Persad-Bissessar said, “We will give you the legal right to protect your family without doubt or fear of extortion.”
“To people who are against stand-your-ground and legal gun ownership, that is your choice. It is simple: If you don’t want a legal firearm, don’t apply. But those who want it must have the right to apply, be considered, and be given legal firearms”
Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Christopher, when asked about Persad-Bissessar’s claims of extortion by rogue officers, on Tuesday told Newsday, “I have not heard her. I am unable to comment at this time. I’m in the middle of the meeting.”
Newsday was unable to contract Gideon Dickson, head of the Police Social and Welfare Association.
On April 20, Newsday reported that two police officers – an inspector and constable – were each granted $250,000 bail, having appeared in court charged with misbehaviour in public office and being due to reappear before Magistrate Cheron Raphael in September. Assigned to the Eastern Division, they were reportedly investigating illegal gambling when they seized $31,000 at a bar, of which they lodged $19,000 as evidence, but kept $12,000. After investigations by the police Professional Standards Bureau, some nine officers were initially held, of whom seven were released but two charged.