THE seven police officers sent on administrative leave on Tuesday following the fatal shooting of three men in Morvant will continue to receive full pay.
The initial period set out for the officers’ “administrative leave” is three months, pending further considerations.
“Administration leave is, for all intents and purposes, you being forced to take leave that you have inside. Your base pay remains the same, everything remains the same, except you are on leave until a decision has been made on if to bring you back,” Police Service Social and Welfare Association president Insp Gideon Dickson told the Express yesterday.
Eleven other officers who were also involved in the police shooting deaths on June 27 have been assigned to desk duty.
The officers are being represented by attorneys Israel Khan, SC, and Ulric Skerritt.
Dickson noted that officers being sent on administrative leave was a process that has been done in the past.
In a phone interview, Dickson said he supported the decision of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to send the officers on administrative leave.
“For something like this, the traditional way may not have been the best practice or best way. What used to happen was that officers—if allegations were made against them—would not be suspended until investigations are completed.
“This is because suspension has a negative connotation to it. It will come across as though you’ve already made a decision on guilt, all the while the investigation is ongoing and not completed.
“So, if you are saying you’re already guilty without the investigation, then you’re prejudicing that person.
He said the officers had the same rights as citizens under Sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution, which indicates a man is innocent until proven guilty.
“So you have to exercise due process, and only then could you say the man is guilty and let him face the consequences,” Dickson said.
However, Dickson noted that outside of being placed on desk duty, in the past the office of the commissioner also had the authority to transfer officers to other divisions or units if allegations were made against them.
But a recent court ruling had challenged the broad strokes of such decisions, he said.
“The commissioner still has the remit to transfer officers as he would see fit. It is an option available.
“However, depending on how it’s done and the timing of it close to the allegations made, this too can seem punitive or prejudicial. So even that is something which would have to be taken into consideration,” Dickson said.
On Monday, director of the Police Complaints Authority David West formally advised the commissioner that the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Joel Jacobs, Israel Moses Clinton and Noel Diamond should be suspended.
However, Griffith said he would not be pressured or bullied into making any decisions, and opted to place seven officers on administrative leave and 11 on desk duty.
Jacob, Clinton and Diamond were shot dead in Morvant on June 27 during a confrontation with police, hours after PC Allen Moseley was killed.
The two incidents have not been directly linked.
But the shooting deaths of the three men led to protests and clashes between police and residents last week in Beetham Gardens, East Port of Spain, Sea Lots and Morvant.