CoP: Report on Brent Thomas case coming in two weeks

Firearms dealer Brent Thomas. -
Firearms dealer Brent Thomas. -

COMMISSIONER of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher will present a written report on the Brent Thomas affair within two weeks but declined to say if she had given permission to police officers to go to Barbados.

Thomas, a gun dealer, was reportedly "abducted" from Barbados and returned to TT by the police.

She spoke to Parliament's Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security on Wednesday. The JSC, under Keith Scotland, grilled police top brass on strategies to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the criminal justice system.

Replying to committee member Dr Paul Richards, Harewood-Christopher said she was compiling a written report, which would be ready in two weeks.

"What is important to note is that the processes and the whole incident is being reviewed. Although I'd not want to say much on the issue, simply because (of) the fact that it still is in the courts, what I would assure is that steps are being made to ensure officers are properly guided in the performance of their investigations."

Richards said National Minister Fitzgerald Hinds had received an oral report, but asked about any written report.

Harewood-Christopher said, "A documented report has not been created as yet. I'm in the process of compiling the report."

She said she had told Hinds the written report would be ready "within the next two weeks."

JSC member Dr Roodal Moonilal asked who was heading the probe into Thomas's "extraction."

Harewood-Christopher replied that it was acting DCP (Intelligence and Investigation) Curt Simon, who was present at the sitting.

Moonilal said the officers criticised by Justice Devindra Rampersad in the Thomas affair were members of the Professional Standards Bureau, but had not been sent on leave while the investigation was still under way.

In reply, Harewood-Christopher said the investigation would be done "with integrity and policing ethics."

Moonilal asked whether interference or prejudice could arise if police were investigating police.

Harewood-Christopher replied, "Member, I can assure you that there will be no interference. Should the public be concerned, please be reminded that there is the Police Complaints Authority, which is authorised to investigate any matter."

Moonilal asked if the PCA was investigating the extraction, but Harewood-Christopher did not know.

Moonilal asked if it had been the practice for Regional Security System (RSS) aircraft to be used by TT, as in this case, to assist in cross-border crime-fighting .

Harewood-Christopher said, "It may have been the process before, but I am not aware.

"The investigations are being conducted and I expect to be apprised accordingly."

Harewood-Christopher, in reply to Moonilal, said she had asked for information on the Thomas matter from the RSS and Caribbean IMPACS but had not yet received any.

Moonilal asked if she could confirm that the CoP's office, whether or not Harewood-Christopher herself, had authorised police officers to travel to Barbados on an RSS aircraft to receive a passenger (that is, Thomas).

Harewood-Christopher replied, "I cannot confirm."

Moonilal asked about Police Social and Welfare Association head Gideon Dickson's remark that officers involved in the Thomas extraction had had counselling for trauma after public criticisms of their action. The MP quipped, "I'm almost tempted to say that Mr Brent Thomas should provide counselling, since he's 'responsible for' their trauma."

Harewood-Christopher said, "I lead professional officers. What my officers would have gone through and the comments, they are strong enough to handle that. I will not say that they are traumatised."


"CoP: Report on Brent Thomas case coming in two weeks"

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