Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith

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.

Other options

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.


IS Barry Padarath in or out?

The People’s National Movement (PNM) is considering mounting a legal challenge to the candidacy of Barry Padarath, the United National Congress (UNC) Princes Town candidate for the 2020 general election.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday expressed satisfaction with the findings of the pre-election 2020 poll conducted by Nigel Henry which showed the People’s National Movement (PNM) five per cent ahead of its main rival, the United National Congress (UNC).

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her “minions” in the United National Congress (UNC) have now “stepped over the line” by attacking the father and brother of National Security Minister Stuart Young.

Young said so yesterday at a news conference at the Ministry of National Security in Port of Spain.

Covid-19 has caused a massive shift in what’s uppermost in the minds of citizens, with the pandemic now trumping crime as the major worry.

“Concern over the coronavirus pandemic has overtaken concern over crime, which had previously polled as the most pressing national issue for almost a decade.

AS the number of Covid-19 cases continues to climb daily in Trinidad and Tobago, a staff member and a child at the St Jude’s School for Girls have tested positive for the virus, while the Montrose Government Primary School has been ordered closed after a pupil was exposed to a contact of a Covid-19 case.