Tobago ACP William Nurse is hopeful the Prime Minister's announcement that only vaccinated public-sector employees will be allowed to come out to work nd hence will be paid in January will encourage his officers to take the covid19 vaccine. Nurse said vaccine hesitancy is high in the service.
On Saturday, during a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Dr Rowley said national security had the lowest vaccination rates – 49 per cent in the police service.
In the past two months, Nurse, on three occasions, raised concerns as the country's vaccine uptake slowed considerably.
In October, Nurse called on officers to take the vaccine, considering their risk of exposure and the limited resources to contain crime and criminal activity on the island.
The week before the December 6 Tobago House of Assembly elections, Nurse renewed his call.
He told Newsday the main reason officers said they would not be taking the vaccine is because they weren’t sure what it contains.
Others believe in “Tobago natural remedies.”
In an interview with Newsday on Monday, Nurse said, “I want to first put in the public domain the role of the police in all this, but in particular, the police officer in Tobago. The police officer in Tobago is in a very unique position. That is to say, the policeman you see on the road this morning is the policeman you will meet in court. He is the policeman who responds to this sudden death, he is the policeman who is part of the investigation into the homicides, and the break-ins and the larceny.
"In other words, that single policeman is everything. He attends every report in Tobago and he is at the greatest risk of contracting the covid19."
After Rowley's announcement on Saturday, the presidents of the police Service Social and Welfare Association (Insp Gideon Dickson), the Prison Officers Association (Ceron Richards) and the Fire Service Association (Leo Ramkissoon), in a joint statement, rejected what they described as a vaccine mandate.
Nurse said, “I have been trying to use persuasion to make officers understand that you have to protect yourself, and the vaccine is one of the best tools to do that. I will not join with the association in lending any voice to oppose what the Prime Minister has said. I am in full support of that – I'm pro-vaccine.
"And by that token, any means to get people to save themselves from harm, I support them.”
Still, he doesn’t expect this move to change the minds of many who have been rejecting the vaccine.
Asked if he is concerned about this affecting policing in Tobago, he said, “We are prepared for every and any eventualities, I will simply use this code: 'Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fair, but around us in awareness.' And that is the principle we will abide by.
"If and when that time comes, Tobago division is one out of nine divisions in the TTPS. I managed two of those divisions and if that happens that I may have to seek the commissioner's permission to move people from my other division to Tobago to get the job done, we will.
"Policing will continue and the safety of citizens is of paramount importance.”