Policewomen vacate Port of Spain City Hall auditorium ahead of corporation’s swearing-in

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Port of Spain City Hall – Anisto Alves

AHEAD of Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony for a new Port of Spain City Corporation, an undisclosed number of female municipal police officers have been cleared out of their makeshift dormitory at Murchison Brown Auditorium at City Hall, sources told Newsday.

Newsday saw photos and video clips of beds, mattresses, tables, chairs, lockers and ironing boards being moved within the auditorium, which Newsday was told had been used to accommodate policewomen who could not be fitted into the old dormitory elsewhere at the City Hall premises.

Sources said this furniture was being moved onto the stage and behind the curtain, out of public view.

When Newsday visited at lunchtime on Monday, the auditorium was clear, but we did not venture in to peep behind the curtain.

Newsday went to speak to CEO Annette Stapleton-Seaforth, who popped out of her office to make a brief statement before returning, saying, “The matter involving the officers has been resolved.”

Newsday was unable to contact outgoing mayor Joel Martinez.

Sources said the corporation moved officers’ furniture out of the auditorium and onto the stage on Sunday. Sources said the corporation now has 100-plus female officers, a cohort which has outgrown the old female dormitory, which was designed for only about 20 officers, but was holding more.

“It’s been a huge increase.”

The source said conditions for female officers were bad in both the old dormitory and the improvised dormitory in the auditorium.

“It is unbearable now.”

The corporation had known in advance that it should expect an increase in officers requiring accommodation, they said.

“They knew this number of people were coming.”

Displaced officers, numbering about 100, must now resort to measures such as daily travel from their homes, including some as far as south Trinidad.

The source said the male dormitory was a bit bigger, but suffered from humidity and mould, while lacking air-conditioning and ventilation, and so in need of remedial work.

The source said the removal of the female officers had been poorly communicated to them and was likely to catch off-guard those due to start their 6pm shift on Monday. They would probably have to seek their personal belongings from the stage and go into the old dormitory to change for their shift.

The source said the Police Social and Welfare Association had visited over the weekend. Newsday was unable to contact association head Gideon Dickson.