Standing between an officer and suspects as he attempts to make an arrest qualifies as obstructing a police officer, Insp Sean Sookram of the Court and Process Branch said on Wednesday as he explained what is meant by the terms “obstructing an officer and resisting arrest.”
Speaking during the weekly police media briefing on Sackville Street, Port of Spain, Sookram said while obstruction was not explicitly defined in the Police Service Act, obstruction could be any deliberate act by a third party to make it more difficult for a police officer to do his job.
He said because of this broad definition, police have had to rely on case law when making decisions, citing an incident in 2016, in which an arresting officer was verbally threatened while trying to carry out an arrest. Sookram said threatening a police officer could also carry a serious penalty.
“In that case the appellant, who was arrested and charged, simply stood between the police officer and two persons he was attempting to arrest and he made a statement, ‘Know what you’re about, you know. One phone call from me...my aunt is a superintendent and my brother is a police. I could deal with you.’
“Those were his words. and those words were found by the court to be sufficient to satisfy the offense of obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.”
Sookram said while the term “resisting arrest” was not explicitly defined either, it could be loosely defined as any deliberate act by the person being arrested to stop or to obstruct the lawful arrest.
He said one reason for resisting arrest could be attributed to the ignorance of the wider public of what qualifies as “resisting arrest” and urged people to refrain from violently resisting the police and simply comply with their instructions when being arrested.
“Resisting arrest, in its simplest form, means not submitting to the arrest. My advice to the public would be to do the simplest thing and submit to the officer and go to the station, where you will be processed. If, however, you feel you are wronged, you have the options to follow up by making a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority or the Professional Standards Bureau.”