Nalinee Seelal and Vashtee Achibar
Prison Commissioner Gerard Wilson said despite Friday’s killing of prison officer Devendra Boodooram, his colleagues turned up for duty at the Port of Spain prison yesterday with only five staying away. He said this was not unusual because in cases where prison officers did not show up for duty, there was a system in place where officers on leave would be called out. He said there was heightened security in the precincts of the prison.
Boodooram was shot dead by a gunman mere metres away from the Port of Spain prison on Friday while driving on upper Frederick Street, in front of St Mary’s College.
Footage from surveillance cameras in the precincts of the prison showed a man wearing a green jersey and a hat fleeing towards Charford Court on Charlotte Street.
Wilson said Boodooram was an exceptionally good officer who shared a comfortable relationship with the inmates.
In light of the killing, which is being linked to a search carried out on inmates three days before at the Port of Spain prison, Wilson advised all prison officers to be vigilant. He also urged members of the public to report to the police any information they had which could prevent more murders.
Asked if he had any meetings with the Prison Officers Association (POA) or Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon yesterday, Wilson said there was no need to but added he would continue to have dialogue with his officers including the POA.
In a statement issued on Friday night, the Prison Service said, hours after the killing, Wilson met with members of the prison executive and law enforcement officials. The statement added that “this brazen act has engaged his full attention and additional information is forthcoming”.
In extending condolences to the family and friends of the fallen officer, Wilson said the Prison Service, the police and other law enforcement agencies were utilising all their resources to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sources revealed yesterday that police had images of the killer and were hoping to review additional surveillance footage from businesses near the prison.
POA president Cerron Richards yesterday insisted the killing of the prison officer was linked to the prison search and the beating of inmates.
Seven inmates had to be taken for medical attention and they have since sought legal advice from attorney Gerald Ramdeen.
Richards, in an i95.5 FM interview, said the attacks on prison officers were more brazen and “there is a need to treat with it in a very decisive and effective manner.” He called for an urgent meeting between Dillon and Wilson.
“Prison officers do a very dangerous job, the job is becoming increasingly challenging with all of the different things in the prison environment and external to the prison environment. What we are not seeing and we have not been experiencing over the years is some serious attempt to look at the issues plaguing the Trinidad and Tobago prison service.”
Dillon told Sunday Newsday yesterday he would meet with the POA and Wilson next week to continue discussions on security for prison officers.
He said he had received a report on Boodooram’s shooting death and police were following leads and would be updated on the investigation this week.
Asked if Government would relocate the Port of Spain prison, Dillon said it was not an immediate plan but a proposal could be made to Cabinet about moving the prison to a secure location outside of the capital.