Commissioner investigating political links in Force
PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has launched an “immediate” investigation regarding police officers affiliated to political parties after a newspaper reported that a police officer had been by-passed for contesting last year’s Local Government elections on behalf of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM).
A police statement reminded officers that when they join the TTPS “you immediately lose certain rights as a citizen. One of those rights is to openly show bias and support for political parties”.
The statement said that in light of information coming to the attention of the Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, he has since launched “an immediate investigation into allegations of a police officer applying and being interviewed for a political post in a political party, whilst being a serving police officer and then being quoted in the media of openly expressing his support and allegiance to the principles of that said party”.
The statement noted that Section 40 of the Police Service Act states that “a police officer is disqualified from membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tobago House of Assembly, or a Municipal Corporation”.
A police officer should also “not engage in any activity, occupation or undertaking which would impair his usefulness as an officer or in any way conflict with the interest of the Service” and “shall not without the consent of the Commissioner, accept any paid employment or engage in any trade or any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking, or undertake private work for remuneration, whether in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago”.
The legislation states that any officer ‘who invests in or acquires shares in any company carrying on business in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago or who acquires any interest in any professional, commercial, agricultural or industrial undertaking in or outside of Trinidad and Tobago shall, within thirty days after his investment or acquisition, inform the Commissioner of the fact in writing”
Section 139 of the legislation also states that an “officer shall not make any public expression of political and sectarian opinions, and shall bear himself with strict impartiality in all matters.”
Griffith said that there is good reason for such regulations, adding that while any citizen is free to express and voice their affiliation to any political party, on taking the oath as a police officer, “you lose certain rights, and rightly so, because at no time must any decision, action, arrest or the charging of anyone be seen or even perceived by the public, of the law enforcement institution acting and abusing their authority based on bias through being politically-aligned to any political party”. (CMC)