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T&T PM denies existence of 'Flying Squad'

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 3:53 PM    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar says she has absolutely no knowledge of the existence of a “Flying Squad” within the Trinidad and Tobago Police service adding that the matter has never been discussed at the National Security Council which she chairs.

Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley called on Persad Bissessar to shed light on whether or not her administration has given the backing to the establishment of the unit as the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) said it too was examining reports on the issue.

Rowley made reference to various media reports about the re-instatement of the unit and allegations by former Flying Squad member, retired police inspector Mervyn Cordner, that he had been approached by National Security Minister Austin “Jack” Warner to re-establish the unit.

Rowley told reporters that he was not prepared to have such a unit in operation, especially under the control of Warner and likened the Flying Squad to the dreaded Mongoose Gang in Grenada and the Tonton Macoute in Haiti.

He called on the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to conduct independent investigations into the matter.

Warner has consistently denied Cordner’s claim. The director of the National Security Operations Centre (NSOC) Garvin Heerah, whom Cordner claim was his contact person, is also distancing himself from the matter.

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has also denied knowledge of the unit.

But Rowley told reporters that Persad Bissessar must address the issue on her return here from Haiti where she had been attending the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Inter-Sessional summit.

"The government now has difficulty in convincing the population, no matter what you may think about the officers, cranky, crazy or otherwise, what is in the public domain is a mixture of fact and fiction and it is in the public interest to separate the fact from the fiction," Rowley said.

But Persad Bissessar said that while there have been headlines “suggesting that some persons may have erroneously perceived a sanctioning of the infamous Flying Squad of the past.

“I have already directed the Minister of National Security (Jack Warner) to prepare a full report on this matter for the attention of the National Security Council (NSC) and myself as Chairman of the Council. 

“What I can categorically state at this time is this matter of any ‘new’ Flying Squad was never discussed with me or brought to the National Security Council,” she said.

“Any such initiative as a revival or creation of any such police unit must be reviewed by the NSC and must be fully considered and endorsed by the Commissioner of Police who is himself a member of the Council”.

Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that any endeavour by her administration to address the crime problem will be fully within the Law. 

“We will not support the establishment of any ‘rouge’ police or para police unit or security entity, which is not within the jurisdiction, and control of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago and of the Police Service and the Commissioner of Police,” she added.

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