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Sunday 23 September 2018
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PM: US concern on port security

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday disclosed that the United States has raised concerns about the level of security at the Port of Spain port. In a radio interview, Rowley said the US is warning TT that “the port of Port of Spain could be determined as a port from which goods and services coming to the US, could be negatively impacted because the level of security we have on the port is not satisfactory.”

He explained this is because of pushback Government is getting from the Public Services Association (PSA) about the operation of electronic scanners at the port to prevent illegal guns and other contraband entering TT. While the police removed over 1,000 firearms from the streets last year, Rowley said guns are continuing to enter the country and some people blame him for every murder that happens in TT. He said he has to listen to foolishness from the PSA because the scanners “will affect the scrotums of the officers who work there.” Rowley added, “I have to listen to that damn nonsense while guns and ammunition come through the port, straight through the open door because we cannot put the scanners in force because the Government does not have the authority to do it without the say so of somebody else.”

Rowley disagreed with a recommendation in the police manpower audit that the Commissioner of Police (CoP) be elected by the people. “So we’ve gone from one extreme to the other, “ Rowley said. While this could work in other jurisdictions like New York where the mayor can hire and fire the CoP, Rowley said, “We are not sure what we want.”

He said the current selection process is the “most ridiculous state of affairs.” As head of the Government and chairman of the National Security Council, Rowley said he has, “virtually no say in the process in evaluating and choosing someone for CoP.” While reiterating his concern about the levels of crime in the country, Rowley believed there has been an improvement the Police Service’s performance within recent times.

He said this is because of pertinent information being provided by the Strategic Services Agency and other intelligence-gathering entities to the police, who then act on it. The Prime Minister also said the divisional heads in the Police Service are taking more responsibility for the areas under their jurisdiction. He said this has seen an improvement in morale in the Police Service.

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