N Touch
Friday 15 November 2019
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Editorial

Under the police tent

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE MURDER of several individuals over the weekend, a drug bust at Goodwood Park, the discovery of a gun in a school desk in Tobago, concern over gang warfare, and warnings about the risk posed by foreign terrorist fighters all point to one thing — the need for our security services to have the tools and resources they need to protect and serve.

The purported “relocation” of a police charge room to a tent in a yard at Arima, on the other hand, points to a situation in which this is clearly not the case.

“The Arima municipal police are not protesting,” a spokesperson for the officers, Supt Erica Prieto, said. “We just want everyone to be aware that we have been working under unhealthy, unsafe, and risky conditions for many years.”

Prieto said the building, on Sanchez Street, was condemned in 1992, a whopping 27 years ago. Yet, it continues to house 62 officers. Some have complained the building is termite-infested. They are also fearful of the risk of cancer as an asbestos ceiling is showing signs of serious wear and tear.

That asbestos ceiling was reported but instead of being removed completely, it was covered with another ceiling. The new ceiling is falling apart. The asbestos ceiling is being exposed once again. Intolerable.

More so when we consider the type of service that is required of police officers in today’s climate, whether municipal, special reserve, or full-time.

At the same time, because members of the essential services are not permitted industrial action, the sight of officers under a tent with posters calling for the intervention of health and safety authorities is one that does not inspire confidence.

It speaks to a complete breakdown of internal conduits of dispute resolution and a collapse of the chain of command. For something as important as the Police Service, these are no small matters.

Still, it is difficult not to sympathise with workers, of any stripe, who feel so imperiled at their workplace they are willing to risk the anger of their superiors.

After years of complaints, their provocative action, as unsatisfactory as it may be deemed, ironically might turn out to be the only way in which they stand a chance of capturing the attention of authorities.

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and National Security Minister Stuart Young must see to it that this situation is investigated, and the officers’ concerns addressed.

Municipal police perform services for members of the public and the public, too, have a stake in ensuring the facilities in question are safe. A tent, pergola, gazebo, pavilion – whatever word is used to describe this makeshift cover – is manifestly inappropriate to house police business. Fix it now.

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