Over the past 15 years, 16 prison officers have been killed.
This statistic was given by president of the Prison Officers Association, Cerron Richards during a candlelight vigil held in front of the Port of Spain Gaol last night.
From about 7 pm, prison officers were seen in civilian clothing marching and singing outside the prison. Richards told reporters the vigil was meant to commemorate the lives of prison officers – as well as all other officers in the various departments of National Security – who died in the line of duty.
Richards said the vigil was held in an effort to get recognition from the Government and Parliament so steps could be taken to put legislation in place to better protect prison officers.
“We are recognising ourselves. We are not waiting for the State to recognise us because true recognition begins internally then externally. The State is not recognising the contribution of prison officers so, we are taking this opportunity to remember the officers who have fallen in the line of duty, in our heart and in our prayers.
“Our prison officers are some of the hardest working men and women in the country and they should be treated with respect.”
The vigil came nine days after prison officer Richard Sandy was killed on October 8. Reports say Sandy, a father of five, was liming at a bar in Gasparillo when he was approached by an ex-convict and shot.
He died at the San Fernando General Hospital.
Richards also sent a message of peace to the prisoners, saying, for the most part, prison officers come to work with an objective mind to treat with the issues of prisoners.
“We as prison officers come to work on a daily basis to treat with prisoners’ safety. We know and understand the conditions at the prison is not satisfactory.
“We know the physical environment is lacking. We also know that prisoners have many issues in the Judiciary, and in many cases we speak on your behalf as well. We also do our best to limit the violence in the prisons. So when we come to work, we come as vanguards for their plights as well.”