Comic cops

By Raffique Shah
August 24, 2013

Raffique ShahNot since late Commissioner of Police Jules Bernard publicly declared, “I’m a toothless bulldog!” have I heard so many outlandish statements coming from the mouths of senior officers of the Police Service.

“Criticism hurts,” screams Acting CoP Stephen Williams. Yet, Williams and his most senior officers say and do the most ludicrous things, inviting not just criticism, but oftentimes, bellyfuls of laughter.

I almost rolled on the floor with laughter when I read the Express headline, “I thought it was a coup!” The newspaper was quoting Deputy CoP Mervyn Richardson, as he sought to explain why he arrested OWTU president Ancel Roget last week during a joint trade unions protest demonstration outside the Hall of Justice.

Now, Richardson could have arrested Roget and all the protestors, if he was so minded, for infringement of two laws, one that forbids wearing masks (outside of Carnival), and other for engaging in a public march without police permission. They would have challenged his action in court, but he might have secured convictions.

Instead, the DCP sprang into action because he thought a coup was underway! He drew this conclusion because “…those persons there had their faces covered, dressed in black and had black pieces of sticks in their hands with flags…”

So sticks, flags and masks signal a coup. Is this man a comedian? When someone as senior as Richardson makes such a statement, people lose respect for him, and by extension, for the Police Service.

One day earlier, secretary of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Ag Inspector Michael Seales, told the media that the massive police/army raid in East Port of Spain, in which communities were “locked down” for several hours and over 100 people arrested and later released without being charged, was part of a “fact-finding mission”.

In a most astonishing statement, Seales told the Express, “Charges would come later when they are re-arrested. They would not be released this time. It was a fact-finding mission in terms of the gathering of evidence…”

So now we the public, and the targeted men, know that they will be re-arrested, and when that happens, they will not be released. I am sure those men and others of similar ilk will sit around patiently and await future raids! And pray that the police do not conduct any fact-finding operation in your neighbourhood.

What a statement coming out of the mouth of a senior police officer! In normal circumstances, the police use a range of intelligence-gathering techniques—electronic, undercover agents, informants—to gather justiciable evidence against suspected criminals. When arrests are made, with the element of surprise, I need add, the dossiers on the culprits are so damning, the suspects could hardly escape justice.

But not in Trinidad: here, the police arrest first and later look for evidence to lay charges. Little wonder they have made virtually no headway in reining in crime, notwithstanding the CoP’s protestations to the contrary. Gangsters continue to rub their notoriety in our faces. Williams slams the media for featuring alleged crime bosses on their front pages. But if they are running rings around the police, that is news.

Speaking of the acting Commissioner, he too made another statement that has no basis in law. Addressing the Roget issue, he warned, “Once you engage in a public meeting or march without permission, it is illegal.”

You are wrong, Commissioner. Section 109 (1) of the Summary Offences Act states, “A person who desires to hold or call together any public meeting shall, at least forty-eight hours but no more than fourteen days before the day on which it is proposed to hold such meeting, notify the Commissioner of Police.”

“Notify” is the operative word here. There are other requirements, such as details of the person or persons calling the meeting, location, time, etc.. But there is no requirement to seek the CoP’s permission. If, upon receipt of the notification, the Commissioner “has reasonable ground for apprehending that the holding of such meeting may occasion a breach of the peace or public disorder”, he may impose conditions on the convenor, or prohibit the meeting.

I note the above not to make the Commissioner look uninformed, but because ignorance of this particular law has resulted many breaches on the part of the police, and here I speak from personal experience. In similar vein, last week the Law Association condemned the mass arrests in East Port of Spain, advising that the police, in fighting crime, adhere to the rule of law.

When procedures are breached, people who may be guilty of heinous crimes easily walk free, as they have done in the past, repeatedly. We all want to see crime contained if not eliminated. We support the authorities—Government, the police, the judiciary—implementing properly planned and executed initiatives to this end.

But please, police officers, spare us the comedy. The politicians have already cornered that market.

I dedicate this column to Cecil Bernard, soldier, officer, gentleman, attorney, judge, and most of all a very decent human being. CB, who made the final transition last week, also had a tremendous sense of humour. Wherever you are, Ces, have a hearty laugh.

17 Responses to “Comic cops”


  • I have always said crime is not the problem, crime detection and solve rate is the problem. Criminals smarter than police. Detection and solve ratio is less than 10% in TnT. Compare that to Peel region in Canada where the solve rate for crime get this is a whooping 95%, and that is 95% for the last 30 years.

    Send a few officers to Peel and let them work for 3 months with the officers there, then let them come and teach the police in TnT how to nab a criminal. Unless something is done about solving crime and the justice system things will continue full speed ahead to the abyss. No, no there are no large percentage of criminals in TnT. Just the regular group of suspects who knows when to strike….

    • Yeah we know ‘de criminals are smarter than the police,’Mamboo.Does that explain why Basdeo is still walking free, along with the two ,well known UNC, high end party financiers , that have been defying AG Eric Holder’s ardent efforts ,to extradite them to the USA? Does that explain why your Auntie K’s first act as T&T first female PM ,was to bring in a White , clueless , fake security expert,Canadian Commissioner , then tried to micro manage / muzzle his every move , only to have him pack his doggy bag /place his tail between his legs like a Carapichima Zandole ,and run back to Edmonton , or what ever Canadian hell hole he emanated from, as crime continued to skyrocket, and the political bozos that saturate your UNC dominant PP party, point fingers every which way , but at themselves?

  • There has always been a litany of woes expressed about dead beat cops right to the level of CoP e.g.(Randy Burroughs). As it has been expressed (‘those who have eyes let them see…..), we in T&T only take action when the international media show us what we suppose to be seeing in the first place. In the case of the above the NY Times did the preentation on Burrough’s. Before traffic lights were introduced at Curepe roundabout (Kay Donna) I was t-boned by a drunk driver only to have my day in court cancelled because of a ‘lost police file’, case cannot proceed further. I have also had the experience of losing my father (who lived in San-Fernando most of his life) in an auto accident (hit from behind and lost control of his vehicle) on the Solomon Hochoy highway (near Gasparillo) only to be told by the lawyer that the file cannot be found in Princess Town (apparently this was lodged in some vault). I have been given so much of cock and bull story by police, auto insurance and lawyers in T&T that this is no matter of comedy and laughing matter for me anymore. However, I cannot let the bitterness from these experiences overwhelm me and I have learnt to accept my losses; because I do know that there are some good people who serve in the protective and legal systems in T&T who refuse to be corrupted. May I add I have never bribed anyone in my life and I shall maintain such until my Maker calls me. So Raf, I know you, Girwar, Panday and company who represented the plight of farmers and workers in the sugar industry and I acknowledge the sentiments paid to Cecil Bernard and I would say the same for my father who worked for 43 years in the oilfield. I wish to share words of wisdom my father in his simplistic way shared with me as a young child: (1) Where money is paid …no favours are done. (2) If you need to thief make sure you thief big (in other words think of character damage). These, became guiding principles in my entire life so far. The late Prof John Spence who I knew was encouraging in describing the ‘mould’ that was prepared for me mentally and physically.

  • Good intepretation Mr. Shah although I think personnel in the entire command and control function of the police services of TnT needs to re-attend enforcement procedures 101. On second thought, they may want to consider a mentoring programme between new officers and the seasoned ones, since the basics of law enforcement would be more fresh in the minds of the youths who recently graduated from training. MTV have a show call Ridiculounesses, I will be looking at future broadcasts to catch the antics of the TnT Police Sevices.

  • TnT police can use a “shot in the arm”. My cousin who is one of the hardest working police officer said if he is in a situation and calls for “back up” chances of another police car coming in a few minutes is not possible, if at all. Yet a billon dollars is spent training and equipping an army that will never see action. Who is the threat, Abu about to die(he was no threat one call to Washington would have ended his career). Now let us look at Venezuela, they are no threat to TnT.

    Here is what I would suggest, convert the army into a paramilitary force with specialized training and task them to gather intelligence and conduct raids into gangster dens of inquity, working with the police. Would any business man be happy to spend a billon dollars a year on training employees but never use them to do anything? It is time to use the military to protect the nation from the criminal enterprise.

    • PUT ALL LOW THREAT LOCKED UP PRISONERS to WORK!!!

    • Nyeat Mamboo, you and your opaque suggestions. I told you , the life time of slurping bush rum , would catch up with you. Just kidding! However , please leave our military ,and police officers alone.
      Ending runaway crimes in our country ,is an easy proposition. if the present leaders ,that dominate the PP party , had the political will, to do so.
      Here is a better idea, that might even put a simle in the faces of the tribe. As a collective, and therefore force a few to sell out that homes in the frigid cold and return home.
      We put an SOS out , for Cops from across the globe, who wish to come here , and serve . Many would come , since we will also throw in a kicker, which is to pay them all, 5 times the amount , that present locals are obtaining,Just like we did for the adorable Canadian Richard Gibbs.
      Now here is where it should get interesting for ‘You Allzs,’Mamoo.We are looking at some 100,000 or so ,very efficient, dedicated, intelligent , and honest officers. Since your Uncle Shah love him some Scandinavian life style , 30 % of the applicants ,would come from either Sweden, Norway, or Greenland. Yep , we ain’t wish to see another Canadian , or Englishman , after the failure to end Kidnapping by dem Scotland Yard blokes , favored by Manning, and stage a successful post racial Curfew , under Uncle Gibbs.
      Since you guys believe so much in folks from the South Asian homeland, we will take 50 % from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The next 20 can come from that efficient bunch in Guyana , Surinam. Just to spice things up Mamboo, let’s throw in some East Asian /Chinese ,for good measure, but will put a clause in the recruitment for them ,that none can open any form of resturant , and rum shop enterprise ,under 20 years in our country.
      Trust me Mamboo when I say ,that would be fair. I know that would also make Cuz TMan happy, since the police force would better reflect our present population-majority being patriotic Indo Trinis and such.
      That’s it , end of our crime woes, and secure the tribal votes all in one.
      Now , here is a dilemma Mamboo , which is as follows:- would this regime still be in power for the next 2 or 3 years , it might take to flesh this wonderful , win/ win initiative in place?
      I Luv this land !
      Oh, let’s wish our people well!

  • Hey folks ,if ever we wish to see why our T&T is a social disaster, and is destined to remain so long into the future ,simply read the diatribe , as enunciated by this guy call Alim El Secorro.
    Hey buddy , you and others within the tribe , need to quit sipping that stale Kool aid ,obviously laced with Caroni Bush rum , as handed out by the likes of Suraj Rambachan,National divider in Chief , Sat Maharaj, Your AG Ramlogan , the phony anti- genocide bozo , Dr Goopiesing ,and similar agenda driven folks, who luckily found themselves in the drivers seat.
    Here is the deal. I feel as disgusted , by the clowns that dominate my entire judiciary/ legal fraternity, as well , as the incompetent bums , that are murdering Trinis daily through out our health service, from Eric Williams Medical Complex , to POS/Sando General Hospital.
    Should I likewise watch, escapist Yamkee shows ,such as Grey’s anatomy, or Law on Order , to find solutions to address their blatent defiencies ?
    It’ s what three years , since your PP government ,have been running our country , and have committed one blunder , after another , so using your teneous logic, won’t you think I am an idiot , Socoro, if I too suggested ,mentoring by more seasoned politicians ,for all and sundry – of this regime -since ‘the basics of politics , will be fresh in the minds of those who were recently elected into office?’
    Trust me Cuz Alim ,when I say to both you ,and your leaders- Public servants aren’t the problem, when it come’s to anything that meaningfully comtribute’s to sustainable development, to our small Republic.
    As a matter of fact, for every sub par , or corrupt performer ,you can point to in the public sector, I can equally find 3 , in your so called efficient ,private sector. Need I mention , Clico, HCU,and counting?
    As for Uncle Shah’s commentary? Well,some much wiser than your’s truly , might be tempted to say, that he ex Lt. Raffique ,would be taken seriously, when he is prepared to unleash his venom , not only on already maligned , scapegoated Police Officers, but also on former Sandhurst- or is it now Westpoint -pals , unable to control the pro criminal, weed smoking ,closet bandits ,who has saturated the Gang green organization ,that make up the the T&T regiment/Defense Force, be they located in Tethron, President house , Couva,or the recently constructed ,billion dollar resident of her Majestick Queen K.
    Again , those of us with a brain Alim, are fully aware as to your not too subtle insinuations , mi amigo. Just get it in ‘U Allzs ‘thick skulls Alim, that this T&T, is a multi ethnic/ multi racial, society.Put differently – it ain’t no melting pot , but a toss salad.
    Jump high, jump low , but remember, we are all stuck with each other.For de record, it’s Afrikans, Indians, Chinese, Jews, Arabs, French Creoles, and carefree, water down , wealthy , former slave holding ,Europeans grand kids , who all contributed to it’s socially purtrid state.
    Here however is the clincher- it will take all our efforts ,to get our nation on course/ out of it’s present social quagmire ,not stupid , neo tribalistic ,finger pointing,or worst yet ,efforts to shift blame ,solely on to others , that ain’t look , or behave like us .
    Capiche , Alim El Secorro?
    I have said it once , twice , but it is still worth repeating – de person ,who can make me hate this beautiful place call Trinidad and Tobago, ain’t born yet!
    Luv humanity , folks, and please forget de tribe, ehh elSecorro? Sorry , ah mean Socorro.

  • Cops engaged in “comical” behaviour are universal to some degree.Several years ago an off-duty police officer played with his dog in a public park.Some pet owners use tennis balls;whilst others prefer a “Frisbee” to amuse and exercise their dogs.The following episode is documented.

    As the exercise,fun and romp continued;the officer for some reason became separated from his animal.The usual “here boy” whistles,etc, failed to re-unite the two.The police officer began a search for his beloved pet.Some time expired before the animal was discovered with a “duffle bag” next to a tree.

    The officer inspected the contents of the “bag” and found that exactly one million dollars were wrapped inside.This discovery was announced (publicly) and its contents surrendered to his superiors.There is legislation which specifies that should such monies be unclaimed after one year:”finders keepers”

    Obviously,the medium of television was rife with broadcasts about this story.”Yah Da!Yah!Da! eventually the one year anniversary arrived;and neither anonymous “beast nor man” claimed a million dollars.”Comedy is a mousetrap into which the movie-goer enters repeatedly” (Anon)..Eureka!!

  • http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-08-28/lawyer-slain-grand-bazaar

    Sometimes when you read some of the views of these well known , selectively outraged , so called intelligent citizens, it is difficult to know if to really laugh , throw up, or jump off de East Dry River, or billion dollar Caroni bridge.
    When our maligned Cops get whacked, by local bandits ,cynical citizens roll their eyes , and silently whisper over tea, Coconut water, and Gin ,or a Carib/ Stag beer- ‘serve the corrupt , incompetent,neglectful, uncaring bastards right.’
    If another typical, low end citizen ,from one of the fast expanding socially disgusting enclaves , get 15 bullets ,via an obvious ,over kill operation, as directed by one of many ignored criminal magnates, we likewise shake our heads ,and claim , ‘serve us right for allowing back into this peaceful country, all those chiefly African deportees ,Uncle Sam got tired of, while ignoring our local – post YTC -juvenile delinquents, and savvy, professional criminals , loaded with their sophisticated arsenals, introduced into our country , chiefly via uncheck business containers , and fishing boats.
    Pray tell what we should think people , when a high end , elite lawyer , cannot even eat ‘a lil bit oh ice cream ,’ in Grand Bazar, and watch the chicks go by?
    As de wisest woman dat ever lived , in my late , Tobago Granny ,used to fondly say , when faced with similar , conflicts/paradoxical confusions – ‘Lord put ah hand , but if you can’t , then put a foot!’
    Tell me folks, who would like to see , our now , ever so popular , pro PP lawyer ,Israel Khan, sprawled out , on the Solomon Hochoy Highway ,after he was sprayed with , let say ,500 bullets, while driving his 5 million dollar Lexus, or Benz -from an Israeli made Uzi -in his stomach , and head? Certainly not me!
    Here is de billion dollar question , to chew on ,however:-Do you think ,members of the legal fraternity , that dominate the political realm , might be spurred into action , seeing that this tragedy has occurred so close to home?
    Maybe not, for they too might be buying into this baseless , do nothing ,escapism, as articulated by alleged,’ VOICES OF REASON.’ You know de one that naively claim that -‘comic cops are to blame for all of our crime woes, starting from 1970 ,to present time.
    There it is Auntie K- anti blank checks or not-rumor has it dat de hard working Cops,from planet Saturn, and Mars , are looking for work, so if de PP’s aim,as laid ouit by their manifesto , is to clean up the T&T crime front,then why not give them a call, after, of course , you place every Police officer ,that is presently serving our country , on a one way , leaky ship, via the shark infested Bocas , to war torn Syria, Egypt , or worst yet Congo,huh?
    Ohhhh, I forgot the plan is still on stream, to hire one million SRP’s , then finally try to push through legislation ,to have Tethron Soldiers , run the Police Service.
    Talk about a comedy of errors!
    We wish our people well!

    • Hold strain, Neal….the cabinet shuffle is coming, The only problem is shuffling the two heavy weights,Rammy and Mooni is literally and figuratively going to be difficult for the lightweight PM.

    • http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,183066.html

      Mr President , since naivety ,did not look like one of your major qualities, I won’t go too hard on you. Let me guess , you really think ,that this regime , under present leadership , whose first acts upon assuming office , was to run career Police offices out of office prematurely,only to bring in a White Canadian , phony expert , then pay him 10 times the amount that was given to the previous 20 Commissioner of Police , all put together , would go out of their way ,to endorse this idea? Ok, and I also wish to sell you the 100 million dollar Caroni Bridge ,Hyatt Hotel, all of Westmoorings, Federation Park , Siparia , Sanfernando East, and Lange Park , for 100 dollars .
      Here is the deal , Uncle Camona . Why not use your influence , to inveigle ‘Her Majestick Queen K ,’and her handlers , to look out for our maligned , law enforcement blokes, for their morals, cannot be lower at this stage, after repeated beat downs .
      Their present Ag Commissioner of Police Por ejemplo , will have to solve every unsolved crime ,that existed in this country since 1962 , to get an appointment to the top job , it seem, and what a sick tragedy, Si?
      I deliberately did not emphasize dem Tethron ,guys and gals in gangreen , as their situation would only become a factor , when we go to war – al la invade Venezuela, Guyana , Barbados, or Jamaica , to get back some of our loaned oil / gas dollars.
      Better yet, be compensated , by Venezuela ,for the stolen natural resources ,they inveigled away from us ,via suspect treaties.
      We wish our people well!
      Ahhhhh, yes ,…… long live de Republic of T&T, and ain’t it a comedy of errors , folks?

  • Those two idiots never cease to amuse me. Indians are very condescending to Blacks in Trinidad, so they keep some clowns like those two and others around, whist they commit their dastardly acts.

    A case in point is the section 34 fiasco, they even had the PNM fooled, completely bamboozled, and they almost got away with it.

    I see a future where Tobago would be bursting at the seams, and the other Islands, the same “small Islands,” would have to come to the rescue of Black people.

    In the Indian scheme of things, there is simply no room for people of African descent in Trinidad.

    • http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-09-02/violent-beetham-protests-anger-cop Trust me Cuz Chinnloy when I say, it ain’t Tobagonians , or historically maligned , Caribbean immigrants ,you guys need to fear ”would be bursting at the seams,” but desperate folks in historically neglected enclaves , right here across Trinidad.
      For the record, we did not develop a vibrant swing vote, in our fast rising Dougla population , because racism was some big problem here in T&T, and no rape was not the cause of their rising demographics either. What you have in T&T is a class problems , and no race or political party possess any monopoly .

      • The china man is in case I run into an Indian babe, who wants to help douglarise the country. Bollywood, here I come.

  • I hear you Cuz TMan.However history is on Auntie K’s side. The two iron Ladies , Britain’s Lady Thatcher, and Dominica Eugina Charles , held their own , against over ambitious , male chuvinist pigs, who sort to undermine their powers, simply because they were … well females.
    She might pay a price, by having to ‘loose a pound of flesh 2 inches from her heart ,’but she will do fine.
    Political animal as I am T Man , I have observed that ,Seemingly weak leaders,be they George Chambers -of no more than 6% for Public Servants fame-Read my lips, no new taxes-GH Bush , post FDR /Harry Truman, or Benizia Buttho , corrupt husband , Mr 10 %,turned Present day Pakistan leader-after her convenient slaughter-all somehow tend to rise to the occasion ,when their backs are against the wall. ‘Her Majestick , Queen K,’won’t be the exception. Let’s continue to wish our people well, mi amigo.Ain’t life beautiful , especially in de land where folks ain’t give a hoot , if Good Friday, fall’s on a Monday?

  • Bravo Neal, well said.

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