Rowley fails to meet Prison Officers Association on killing of members

President of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards. Photo by Roger Jacob
President of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards. Photo by Roger Jacob

TWO weeks after calling on the Prime Minister to meet with it after two of its members were murdered, the Prison Officers Association (POA) says it has not even received an acknowledgement letter from Dr Rowley.

Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday morning, POA president Ceron Richards said the lack of communication by the PM was disheartening. He added that the POA executive were to meet on the issue and decide on the next step.

Contacted on Tuesday afternoon, Richards said, in keeping with the mandate given to him by the membership, he was not at liberty to say what steps the association would be taking. He said the stance was taken to avoid any misunderstanding that the POA was threatening the Prime Minister.

Richards said: “The Prime Minister hasn't responded to our correspondence and we find it a bit offensive, given the fact that the Prime Minister knows what's happening in the prison service. He knows the situation and circumstances faced by prison officers.”

On November 26 prison officer Trevor Serrette was killed at his fruit stall in Valencia. Three days later Nigel Jones was shot dead in front of his four-year-old daughter at a taxi stand in Siparia.

Both men worked at the Wayne Jackson Building (Building 13) at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca.

A day after Jones was killed, the home of a prison officer was shot at. An off-duty policeman who lived nearby and responded to the shooting was himself shot during the gun battle.

After the murders of the two men, the Prime Minister assured the State would protect prison officers.

In a Facebook post on December 2, Rowley said: “We are very aware of the perils surrounding the duties of honest, hard-working prison officers and have taken note of the onslaught aimed at these officers of State. We will do everything possible to secure them and their families.”

On Tuesday, Richards told Newsday that Rowley, as head of the National Security Council, should do better and was hoping to meet with him to discuss what can be done to protect prison officers.

“We believe that Dr Rowley should do better, I believe, shows some responsibility, and empathy, enough to meet with the representative of prison officers to hear what their complaints are.

"It is not enough for the Prime Minister to merely say that national security is going to treat to the security of the prison service and its officers. It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to say that, given the fact that they have been saying that for years and we are still experiencing the same type of results.”

After prison officers were murdered in the past, the association called on the State to give officers priority in getting gun licences and wanted special allocations from the Housing Development Corporation.

Police arrested nine men in relation to the killing of the officers but later released them. The men have since threatened to sue the State for wrongful arrest.

A $500,000 reward is up for grabs for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the two murders.


"Rowley fails to meet Prison Officers Association on killing of members"

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