Express Editorial : Daily

SIX police officers have been suspended following the incident in which several of them were seen kicking a man on the ground while arresting him. The incident began in the midst of a row involving tickets for entry at a fete. The officers are members of the Inter-Agency Task Force, in the TTPS.

The suspensions are now pending the results of two separate investigations, one internally by the Professional Standards Bureau, and the other by the Police Complaints Authority. While these bodies conduct their respective probes, the rest of us are left to wonder about the loss of officer self-control that was captured in videos posted by onlookers.

It would be useful to get a proper handle on what might be the terms of reference for the PCA investigation as to what transpired, or at least, the portion of it that sparked such responses in the public. The incident was captured live and in living colour, as the saying goes.

Under more normal circumstances, the PCA undertakes an investigation based on a report provided by someone aggrieved over a matter involving the conduct of one or more police officers, in the execution of their duties.

In the instant matter, however, the facts are there, at least the ones which make the incident the issue that it has become. A suspect in a matter was apparently fleeing attempts at arrest. He is cornered and is subdued by officers. He is thrown to the ground. One officer kicks him in the region of his upper torso. Another officer is seen rushing to the scene, and delivering another kick, this time to the man’s head.

Probative value here may be inherent in seeking to determine exactly what led to these particular pieces of action by the officers involved. They speak loudly, however, to the time-honoured prohibition against kicking a man when he is down.

What are the circumstances or allowances that may make such action at least excusable, the PCA investigation qualifies as a priceless endeavour in pursuit of same.

As far as the internal investigation is concerned, if this is not an open and shut case of what stands against everything pertaining to professional standards, then nothing is.

It begs the question, if officers could respond like this in public view, what might they be capable of behind closed doors? Then again, we have an example of this, of recent vintage, from the matter involving the prime suspects from the Andrea Bharatt kidnap and murder incident.

Such behaviour by members of the TTPS in 21st century Trinidad and Tobago does a huge disservice to the very notion of a Professional Standards Bureau, which has been in existence for long enough now. It calls into question the nature and the quality of the service such a unit provides, or the extent to which some officers who are assigned to duties such as the one involved here, are ready for the tasks at hand.

In addition, women in relationships with police officers continue to complain about domestic violence when issues arise between them.

What is exposed here is a huge deficit in anger management training in the Service. It represents a loud appeal for more rigorous training in the areas of quick, calm and strategic thinking, and self-discipline.

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