JENSEN LA VENDE
CHAGUANAS municipal police officers say they are operating with faulty firearms and are calling on acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to clear the way for them to get new guns.
Newsday was sent an e-mail from the officers requesting new guns as they have been operating with malfunctioning ones for some time. The officers said they had been calling for the new guns since November last year. “Every day, officers of the Chaguanas Municipal Police Station are patrolling with dysfunctional arms and ammunition,” they said.
According to the the e-mail, on November 27, Insp Demottos and WPC Diaz of the Police Service Armoury visited the Chaguanas Municipal Police Station and inspected and audited the 12 firearms in the presence of Sgt Mc Donald.
In the e-mail, the municipal police officers said, “Such firearms and ammunition attached to the Chaguanas Municipal Police Station are dysfunctional and are not safe to be used,” adding that the ammunition were expired and only one of the pistols had a “50/50 chance of firing off” if triggered.
The officers go on to say that after the audit, “A file was immediately made and sent to the Commissioner of Police and Assistant Commissioner of Police (Municipal Police Service) Brian Headley requesting the purchase of new arms and ammunition.”
Officers say they have sent numerous reports to Headley since the site visit.
The Chaguanas Borough Corporation has already allocated the funds to purchase the arms and ammunition, however, nothing can be bought without Williams’ approval. In a telephone interview last week, Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan, under whose authority the municipal police fall under, said he hoped the situation would be resolved soon. Boodan confirmed the guns and ammunition were in dire need of replacement, adding that his officers, 12 in total, had been falling just shy of performing miracles given their current tools.
“In these challenging times, we need to have proper tools of the trade. This issue was raised several times at our general council meeting and the necessary requests have been made but, to date, no approval has been granted,” Boodan said.
In the e-mail, the officers said all the necessary documents – an armoury officers report, an inspector’s report, an invoice for arms and ammunition and a money allocation for their purchase – had been completed, all that remained was for Williams to give approval.
Sunday Newsday was informed that no such request was before Williams.
When contacted, Headley said he was aware of the need for the guns but did not want to say if the request was passed on to Williams saying that it was confidential information that he could not divulge.
Boodan lauded his officers who he said were working diligently even without their guns and commended the head of the unit, Insp Ballyram Lalla. Boodan said several letters had been sent to the Police Commissioner and added that, outside of the guns, the promise of a total of 100 municipal officers per corporation would also be welcomed. The announcement of the 100 officers was made by the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government last year.
With the added manpower, Boodan says, the municipal officers could assist the Police Service by doing school visits and community patrols, leaving police to focus on other matters. He added, with 100 officers, he would be able to achieve his vision for 2018 to make the borough of Chaguanas the safest in the country.