As some sections of society get more and more belligerent towards police and incidences of violence against officers increase, Inspector Kazim Ali of the Police Service’s Legal Department is urging all police officers to, “Use force as necessary” when confronted by unruly people.
Ali who is also an attorney spoke yesterday at the Police Service’s weekly press briefing at Police Administration Building in Port of Spain where he said that under the Criminal Offences Act, officers are well within their right to defend themselves when attacked by people in the execution of their duties.
He said that for this year so far, there were 98 reported cases of assault on police officers, 384 reports of resisting arrest and 73 cases of obstructing police officers in the execution of their duties. “In recent times officers are encountering a lot of resistance from the public while attempting to carry out their duties. In carrying out our mandate sometimes we are obstructed and hindered by you the public and at times the use of force is unavoidable,” Ali said.
Ali explained that ‘obstruction’ can be defined as any act in which a suspect or member of the public intentionally prevents the arrest of an individual or makes it more difficult for an officer to carry out his duties. He said that in addition to physically preventing officers from carrying out their duties, people can also be charged with obstruction for providing a false name and address to officers, alerting motorists of speed traps and denying officers in the possession of a search warrant, admission into their property.
He added that footage obtained from the recently introduced body cameras can be used as evidence against people who attempt to obstruct officers from carrying out their duties. Ali also said that while cases of excessive force would not be tolerated, he urged officers to use force as necessary depending on the nature of the confrontation.
Ali reminded members of the public that the offence of obstructing a police officer was a summary one and carries a penalty of $10,000 and two years imprisonment.