Police Association: Don't use cops as political football

Naparima MP Rodney Charles. -
Naparima MP Rodney Charles. -

THE Police Social and Welfare Association (TTPSWA) in a statement on Monday complained about police officers being used as a political football, citing a recent unnamed court case, an apparent allusion to the controversial extraction of firearm supplier Brent Thomas from Barbados to Trinidad and Tobago by a trio of senior police officers.

The association said it stood in solidarity with the men and women of the police service (TTPS), tasked with maintaining law and order in a society not always appreciative of their efforts.

"We must navigate this mandate through a vegetation (sic) of class, creed and race, being heavily mindful that it must not inform our decision making."

Saying it had viewed with intent scrutiny the information in the public domain over the case, the TTPSWA said, "Referring to what is public, we lay scorn on those who have used the names of our officers as a political football to advance their agenda."

It added, "We, like other stakeholders, guard the image of our members jealously, especially considering that we are the gatekeepers of the justice system.

"We therefore warn those who may further seek to undermine the characters of our officers subject to this matter that this matter is very much sub judice and we will if need be provoke an appropriate legal response."

The association said it did not expect blind loyalty, as no organisation was infallible or above the law, but noted the support the police enjoy elsewhere in Caricom.

"We do expect though that when having to execute our duties and when having to make unpopular decisions contrary to the status quo but in the interest of law and order, that our leaders consistently demonstrate a similar level of support."

Naparima MP Rodney Charles in a statement on Monday. chided international relations expert Prof Andy Knight for criticising Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's move to write to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on the Thomas matter. Knight said such communication should be only government-to-government. Charles said Knight was "dead wrong,” and Persad Bissessar was right to request a full inquiry into Thomas’s “abduction.”

"She acted consistent with modern international relations practices, in the interest of our democracy, and in the face of Rowley’s silence."

Charles said Knight's view that only the Prime Minister – but not Persad-Bissessar – could write to Mottley was a "false and outdated comment."

“What utter nonsense based on antediluvian international relations (IR) protocols in which governments spoke only to each other to the exclusion of other interest groups."

Charles said IR protocols were just guidelines on diplomatic interactions, and were not cast in stone, according to the US Foreign Service Institute.

"Modern diplomacy is replete with examples of non-state actors being involved in international diplomacy.

"Former US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, who previously helped a former US marine, earlier in 2022 visited Moscow in September of the same year to do the same for WNBA star Brittney Griner.”

He said US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (a Republican), the US equivalent of a TT opposition leader, had recently met Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen.

"Greta Thunberg, a Swedish girl born in 2003, is known worldwide for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation. She is not a head of state." Charles cited UN goodwill/cultural ambassadors like Christiane Amanpour, Laura Bush and Princess Caroline of Hanover who advance various international causes.

"Even PM Rowley met with Republicans, Michael McCaul and Mark Green, on two separate visits to the US last year."

"Unfortunately, Prof Knight, like many in academia, seem inextricably wedded to yesterday’s theoretical principles instead of today’s practical realities."

Charles advocated modern “network diplomacy,” in which sub-national units and civil-society actors link up across the world to give an impetus to transnational relations, as opposed to "club diplomacy,” governed by the nation state, by which only Rowley could speak to Mottley.

Charles lamented that Knight reportedly said the Barbados Police Force had abided by the Bajan Extradition Act to turn over Thomas to the TTPS.

"Was it not Barbados AG Dale Marshall who said in that country’s Parliament that the Barbados Police Service fell 'somewhat short of applicable legal norms' when it apprehended TT national Brent Thomas without an extradition request last October?

"Come on, Prof Knight. You are better than this."


"Police Association: Don’t use cops as political football"

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