Wanted: Plurality in the Police Service

By Stephen Kangal
February 11, 2007

IndiansThe arbitrary and selective conduct of the police in responding to recent popular protest movements raises fundamental questions on this response and its linkage with the composition of the protective services in plural Trinidad and Tobago. In cosmopolitan societies but more so in a multicultural but in an ethnically polarised T&T our cosmopolitan people must be provided with every basis to identify with the police. The police must never be perceived or be used as a mechanism for political repression or constitute a potential threat to any democratically elected government or act as an arm of the Executive as it is being perceived today in T&T.

The level of force used by the police to deal with legitimate social protests undertaken by residents in areas such as Barrackpore, Fyzabad and Chatham differs considerably from the response to that initiated in Point Fortin, Morvant and other urban areas. The lack of and skewed responsiveness of the police to Indians victims of the crimes of kidnappings, burglary and banditry as revealed by the articles written by attorney-at-law Anand Ramlogan is a cause for great concern and outrage for the entire national community.

The action of the police in treating with the peaceful protest against crime instigated by Mr. Inshan Ishmael reeks of political victimisation, arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and personal humiliation that cannot find justification in any existing law in T&T. Is this ample evidence of a creeping dictatorship aided by a “mongoose gang” that seems to be motivated by and acting to justify their covert political patronage? The salary of the lowest rank of the Police Officers (constable) .is above $8,000 per month.

In T&T the right not only to join political parties but more importantly to express political views constitutes a fundamental right from which no derogation is permitted except by due process of law passed in accordance with the criteria for constitution-amending legislation. The Anti Terrorism Act did not fulfill this requirement.

These events underscore the urgent need to ensure that the composition of our protective services does not pose a threat to the very people who they are precepted to protect and serve. The only way that this growing threat can be reduced and the attitude of the police response to people’s protests can be uniform, transparent and consistent is by the achievement of ethnic and geographic balance in the service. There is no excuse for 90% of the Police Service being recruited from the East-West Corridor. Perhaps this is why an African-dominated Police Service/Government has “no compunctions visitings of nature” with the predominantly Indian victims of kidnappings. Rumour has it that the rogue element of the police is in league the kidnapping mafia. Only with an ethnically balanced service can the policed co-operate with, identify with and feel protected by an even-handed the police. This is essential for our future peace, justice and stability.

Lord Scarman justified the adoption of a strategy of positive discrimination after the 1981 Brixton riots to make the London Metropolitan Police more reflective of the diversity of London’s ethnic minorities. We do not have to invoke the principles of positive discrimination in T&T to realise ethnic balance in the Police Service. There are enough Indian applicants from recent press information on the list of applicants. In T&T the largest minority that are prime victims of non-gang related crimes needs to know that the police can be trusted. That it will protect and serve them as well.

From my experience only accelerated Indo-T&T recruitment to achieve equity, widespread intelligence gathering and balance in the Police Service is the way forward for realising an effective service.

12 Responses to “Wanted: Plurality in the Police Service”


  • This is a tired refrain. Yes there is a need for balance in these forces, but please, when are people like Kangal going to cease using the dishonest excuse of ethnic favouritism and address the cultural hangups that deter Indian Recruitment in the police force. It is a treasured but open secret that the messing and boarding arrangements of disciplines services which require recruits to mix closely together is anathema to many Indians. In addition, go back as far as you like and you will find that this imbalance existed long before Trinidad and Tobago became an independent Nation. So the British were showing preference for Africans too. This is one more tired example of African bashing, blaming a group for the consequences of the cultural inhibitions of another.

  • Mr.Daniels, your argument is a tired refrain. It may have had some validity 40-50 years ago, But times have changed.
    The British used Africans because there was a need for more physically built policemen.(That was why a lot of the overseers on the slave plantation were black). Now there is a need for more intelligent officers (since the present ones are as effictive as a bull in a china shop). All branches of government should be reflective of the society as a whole. If the positions were reversed both you and I would be protesting in the street against this inequity and rightfully so. Why is it when our practice of discrimination and racism is called into question it is African bashing? Are we the only ones who are allowed to discriminate and be racist because we are black. Is that how we rationalise our own inadequacy?
    Come on let us grow up and face the truth, T&T have retrogressed to being a more racist society because of political expediency. We are an embarressment to the legacy of people like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, Beko etc. It is time for all of us to band together and create a new T&T. All our political leaders (parties) have failed us. Inequity of any kind is reprehensible and should not be rationalised.

  • Mr. Kangal,
    Is it possible that the percieved ‘under-representation’of Indo-Trinbagonians in the Defence Force Force and Protective Services is a result of these careers not being among the ‘careers of choice’ of most Indo- Trinbagonians? Should members of any racial grouping be forced into our State institutions merely on the grounds of proportional representation? Where would you place freedom of choice vis a vis the need for such representation?
    Dave Williams

  • Dave Williams, you sound exactly like the White racist in the Alabama who in 1968 said, that the reason blacks can only be maids, porters and garbage men is because that is the line of occupation they choose and that is the only career they can be good at. Freedom of choice I believe. He failed to mention just as you have, that the avenues to other careers were closed by the racist political system that existed in the South.I certainly think that many Indo-Trinbagonians would much rather be a soldier, policeman or civil servant than be unemployed if given the opportunity. Even the most avowed racist will try to rationalised their attitudes.
    It is truely amazing how our perspectives change when the tables are turned. Example:Before 9/11 there was total opposition to racial profiling against blacks and rightfully so, but when it came to profiling Arabs
    72% black supported it as oppose to 54% white. Is’nt funny that when we get a chance to kick someone else we jump at it, and then try to rationalise our actions.

  • Manning’s Ethnic Quotas For Central
    Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2006

    By Stephen Kangal

    When will the elusive attributes of a “level head” and “common sense” return to take up residence in the originator of the criteria that he identified as being fundamental for achieving a Ministerial appointment? Or did the ghost of murdered darling child Sean Luke possess PM Manning and cause him to speak his usual brand of thoughtlessness in reprisal for statal negligence of the young and vulnerable on his Waterloo pilgrimage?

    Out of the blue establishing ‘mixed communities’, that the Guardian headlined in bold yellow as “douglarisation”, has become the instantaneous policy and philosophy of Government’s housing programme geared to achieve diversity and conflict management. Is this also a new policy on positive discrimination totally and exclusively favourable to Afro- Trinidadians without any commensurate consideration whatever for the ethnic majority in T&T? If ethnic considerations are excluded from the selection criteria of the HDC that results in a 90 per cent domination/occupation by Afro -T&T why is it right to apply ethnic quotas in Central if not for voting purposes? Should the resources of the State be used for advancing naked political agendas?

    No effort has been made by the PNM to manage and harness the economic and social wealth of T&T. There is a fixation to destroy it because it makes our African brothers and sisters very uncomfortable. This is the very first time that I have heard of a policy on diversity management and it is nonsensical as it is geared to capitalise on a isolated racial conflict.

    The only way that Government can implement this deliberate policy of social re-engineering, cultural dilution and infiltration is by a system of ethnic quotas. But this policy cannot be limited to the lands of Caroni if we agree to this radical, nonsensical, ethnic resettlement departure.

    Manning must begin with his target of achieving “mixed communities” by introducing an ethnic quota system that will result in greater equity, fairness and his brand of “diversity management” being achieved in the distribution and allocation of the houses being built by Rowley’s Housing Development Corporation on current high priced lands located in urban-suburban areas.

    This policy cannot be restricted to Central Trinidad because it will reek of geographic discrimination and increase the perception of an electoral security agenda that is geared to establish a PNM political foot- hold in Central using state resources. He must also create a pole of housing attraction to encourage Indo- Trinidadians to re- settle in Afro-dominated Tobago and the East-West Corridor as an integral and credible component of his “mixed communities” policy.

    Manning has now opened a Pandora’s box on his unilateral pastoral declaration of Government’s policy and philosophy on diversity management/destruction in plural T&T. This is his knee-jerk, puerile and dictatorial response to the isolated Boot Hill-Felicity stand off. It is clear that he will capitalise on any opportunity to justify access to, relocation and redistribution of his Afro- supporters to lands that he now regards as the national patrimony. But the houses that the HDC builds and other state lands located outside of Caroni lands are also the national patrimony.

    I have said before that the PNM cannot and is pathologically unable to think or to act outside of the ethnic box. Accordingly all actions are geared to forward and advance their electoral security agenda or the ballooning of their vote banks. But they are masters at putting a different spin on their naked pursuit of retaining government. Look at the large and expensive cadre of spin- doctors that they recruited as a matter of urgent priority.

    As of now by constant spin the strategic building and location of HDC housing in the marginal constituencies to tilt the electoral balance in their favour as can be demonstrated in the constituencies of St. Joseph and Tunapuna that are now no longer marginal constituencies has become acceptable to the opinion makers and spin doctors.

    He seems to have given his blessing by his loud silence to the aggressive reprisals and militant law breaking of Boot Hill against the media and the Felicity residents.

  • I think some people have missed the main point of Mr. Kangal’s piece. Plurality goes beyond the ethnic makeup of the service. It includes the way in which the protective services (not including the Fire service) deals with the different peoples of Trinidad. Example -sending 3 unmarked loaded & armed police vehicles to arrest a single man for not printing the name and address of the publisher on his flyers (even though his own name and phone number were there and that was the best charge they could come up with after they realized that they falsely arrested him under the anti-terrorism act) while not doing anything to people who throw stones and bottles at a health centre – public property and threaten to kill the police and nurses – not once but twice in the past few months. Or bringing out the army for protesters in Barrakpore while leaving protesters in Point Fortin and POS alone.

    To say the careers in the defense force are not pursued by indo-Trinidadians is a lame excuse. For a long time there was imbalance in the ethnic makeup of UWI. The gov’t attempted to right this wrong by making UWI affordable for all and opening a second University. Why does not gov’t make the Protective services a more appealing career to those who are perceived to be not traditionally inclined to that path.

  • Mr Russell no one is arguing against balancing the services. The dispute surrounds the reason for the imbalance.

    How come the same reason for the imbalance in these services are not attached to those other sectors of the society where Africans are disproportionately un-represented.

    As for your intimitation that an influx of Indians will increase the intelligence of the force, well, go figure. Thou mayest attempt to hide beyond an adroitly chosen nomenclature, but thy brazeness is plain to see.

    If the society is going to seek ethnic balance in entities, then let it happen across the board. About the only balance thought necessary by the Kangal’s and the “Russells” are those that carry an economic price for Africans. But then again, they are just running true to form.

    Russell wrote:

    Example:Before 9/11 there was total opposition to racial profiling against blacks and rightfully so, but when it came to profiling Arabs
    72% black supported it as oppose to 54% white. Is’nt funny that when we get a chance to kick someone else we jump at it, and then try to rationalise our actions

    There was no total opposition to the profiling of blacks before 911. That is a dishonst assertion on your part. As a matter of fact, there was wholesale profiling of blacks by other minorities running 7/11s across the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Black Film stars like Danny Glover could not get a taxi driven by many who will complain today, and rightly so, of being profiled because of the ethnicity of the 911 terrorists. Skewing the facts to fit your predisposition might work in little rooms designed to perpetuate such slants, but is as credible as the name you chose to adorn your posts, and just as discernible.

  • Although a sensitive issue, any dramatic alteration to the ethnic composition of the Protective Services, particularly the Army. Police and Coast Guard would be a mistake for several reasons. I’ll give just one.

    The Canadian Refugee scandal of the 1980s betrayed quite clearly the mindset of 15,735 representatives of a particular ethnic community in Trinidad. The disgraceful spectacle of so many members of one community doing a hatchet job on the international image and prestige of the land of their birth will be forever etched in the memories of other Trinbagonians who love their country unconditionally and IS a difficult sin to forgive.

    The deception and litany of lies about Trinidad and Tobago that were falsely documented and falsely sworn to on the Bhagvdad Gita in Immigration offices across the length and breadth of Canada cannot be easily dismissed or forgiven. Until the mindset that gave rise to such treasonous actions is totally eradicated, the presence of such individuals and their kith and kin in our armed forces must be kept at token numbers.

    Our borders and strategic positions must be manned by individuals whose loyalty to Trinidad and Tobago is unquestionable and unconditional, that does not depend on whether a particular political party is in office.

  • “There is something rank in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago”

    It was best said by George Orwell, “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”

    If you all would recall, there has been two exercises with regard to the selection of Police officers and there is a constant plea that qualified individuals are not seeking employment in this field.

    This lie must end. I want to share the findings of an investigation I conducted. It was just by chance that I came upon these facts which I am about to relate.

    A few persons whom I know, young individuals who were looking for a job all applied and went through the recruitment process for TTPS. All the brave young men and women made sacrifices to attend all of the stages and were told that they had passed each one and would move on to the final stage selection.

    The final stage these individuals attended would be the agility held at the Police Barracks in St. James.
    They are now to wait for selection confident that the system would provide them an opportunity. To their surprise there is an advertisement for those individuals interested in joining the police service to attend well the various locations. The individuals decided to call the barracks to enquire as to the status of their applications. To their surprise not one of them got accepted and they were told to re-apply the reason being that they failed the agility test. When they mentioned they were told that they were successful, the female police corporal informed them ,” well I just say you all fail”

    The COP keeps calling for qualified persons to apply all the persons to whom I make reference have at least five subjects and are currently pursing higher level education and are all of east Indian descent.

    I ask you all:
    Is this a coincidence?

    Could ethnic cleansing also be taking place in the Police service?

    Have we reached a stage in Trinidad and Tobago where every creed and race do not find an equal place?

  • Couldn’t believe that Uncle Stephen Kangal, and the “Ethnic Cleansing Eradication Squad” was around as long as 2007. Serves me right ,disappeared for so long from the greatest country on earth – my land, Sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country , and not kept abreast with critical social issues of the day as hereby advanced by our learned friend and former long serving elite Foreign Affairs -Civil Servant.
    To respond to his claim however that “there is no excuse for 90% of the Police Service being recruited from the East-West Corridor.” I’ll say this to him. You tell the predominantly elite Indo Trini businessmen that would not even employ an African youth with 3,6 or 7 O’Levels for a job to even clean the office ,make coffee , or wash the boss’s car , and less of them would have to resort to becoming civil servants like policing , for a living.
    You encourage Mr. Panday to support a prudent ,progressive policy of land redistribution , and a few more folks from the East / west corridor would like others, opt instead for higher education , might open a few businesses using their land deeds as collateral, or become a fish farmer ,or produce some other much needed healthy organic agricultural products, as opposed to saturating our Police Service.

    He said also that “rumour has it that the rogue element of the police is in league the kidnapping mafia.”
    Are you certain it’s not the other way around Uncle Kangal? It might just be rogue elements in the business community , that’s in league with respective kidnapping mafias, and are using their connections to influence elements within the hard working , underappreciated, and morally debased Police Service, to pursue narrow ends. The solution is simple Mr. K , encourage thousand of East Indians youths to propone higher education , and business enterprises , and instead have them join the Police Service so as to make some wrongs right , and correct blatant anomalies as you and others sees it. Don’t be surprise to hear that the grass is not as green as it might appear from the other side.
    By the way, Mr. K , I dare you to have the guts to demand a statistical breakdown of the Indo / Afro ratio breakdown within the Police Service within the past two decades. Just don’t be surprise at the shocking results however. While you are at it , we’ll also throw in an assessment of Africans to East Indians arrest break down , to see whose blue and white color criminals in the end are serving more time in prison ,and who are successfully beating the rap with high priced lawyers , in a country that is presumably controlled by black African folks .
    Ahhh the lamentations of the boy who cried wolf too many times! Would any one dare to listen to him when his legs are dangling from the jaws of an avaricious ,grinning wolfish monster ? Perhaps not, but Mr. K knows that already , and what does he care? As Oliver Cromwell said to Sir Thomas Moore, in a Man for All Season, “The end justified the means , correct? Yes the good old days when schools still cared to teach.
    Let’s reminisce shall we about the good old days. It is January 19th 1981 , and 200 plus young men and women are at the St James Training College Barracks, prepared to commence their first day training as new recruits . The COP is Randy Borroughs at the top of his gun slinging Flying Squad game,the Doc is alive and kicking, and most of the young , excited folks are casually dressed in jeans and T- Shirts as if they are going to a Caura Curry duck lime, or a Las Cuavas bake and shark / Vat 19 beach orgy. The day however would go down in history for the St James business community for the recorded an unprecedented spike in purchase of dressed suits and formal wear by frantic recruits who had just got their first marching orders by the famous Fox aka Rndy B. “No one was to be allowed into the barrack unless they presented themselves in satisfactory attire that met the high standard requirements of future professionals about to embark on service to the nation.” Needless to say , everyone returned and entered in flying colors , and the lesson hopefully sunk in, and remained for some .
    We know what became of the Fox in the end, and we know of the amount of littered African bodies in various forest via infamous shoot outs raids . There are also rumors also of the ‘heads up , and soft crime fighting approaches that the Fox carried out in the various areas mentioned by Mr. K in parts of Central , and South. However , though this can be corroborated , it’s a subject for a different day. Some would say , never trust a man who placed such close attention to concealing his true identity , not me however, the Fox some say was way ahead of his game ,with that Michael Jordan haircut.
    Yes , the good old days, when a Commissioner of Police was in charge of his service, and everyone would have known it – from our lofty Chief Justice, to religious tugs like Abu Backer. Today , every time the COP needs to go to the bathroom to relieve himself , he needs a green light from his Scotland Yard simi bosses, or the Minister of National Security.
    What a joke!
    Play on boys of the Black Socrates Squad.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sUEe4TMlcg

  • when you sign up for SRP in Trinidad&Tobago and do exam interview,you pass and they just pick a few,what about the others? do they not have the right to know if they will be joining the force after waiting 3yrs? should someone not say if you have to try again? the police service of Trinidad&Tobago have no manners at least let people know where they stand contact these who are waiting and let them know some thing.

  • Police Service short by 1,000
    Wednesday, July 8th 2009

    There is a shortage of some 1,000 police officers in Trinidad and Tobago, says National Security Minister Martin Joseph.

    He made the statement in the Senate last night, confirming an earlier claim made by Opposition Senator Wade Mark that at the present time, ’there are some 6,357 officers but the required strength is some 7,691 officers, giving us a deficit of close to 1,334 officers,’ in the Police Service.

    ’Senator Mark said that there is a shortage of 1,000 police officers and he’s correct and this is why the Government has made a commitment of recruiting 500 police officers per year. This year we were able to recruit 200 and seventy-something,’ Joseph said.

    He added that ’if it is that there are persons who are desirous of becoming police officers are not able to meet the basic requirement’ there is no use in forcing them to join the police.

    ’Because at the end of the day the very new police officers who we want to bring new thinking into the discharging of their police responsibilities will themselves be compromised,’Joseph said.

    He dismissed a claim by Mark that there was contention between the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) and the Police Service.

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