The trinidad Guardian / Prison Officers’ Association president Ceron Richards is holding the Government responsible for the murder of colleague Richard Sandy, and is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to implement urgent measures to protect prison officers or face possible retaliation.
Richards made the call as he visited Sandy’s Pleasantville home to support to his wife and children yesterday. He knocked the Government for its non-action in response to several incidents over the years where prison officers were threatened, injured and murdered.
Lamenting that over a dozen officers have been shot and killed within the last decade, Richards ask if many more have to die before the state take decisive and meaningful action.
“The Prime Minister, as the chairman of the National Security Council, must get up and act,” Richards said.
He said criminals believe the apparatus of the state can be challenged at any time, adding if those charged with the responsibility of protecting society are themselves threatened, what does that meant for the ordinary citizens.
“I am saying it to you Dr Keith Rowley, sir, your officers are being killed, they are being killed on the streets, they are sweating and giving their lives for this country with no assistance coming from the state and because of that we are holding the Government personally responsible. The Government of T&T is the culprit in this matter because much more can be done than what is being done currently,” Richards said.
“The Prison Officers Association of T&T is fully in support of its membership and whatever action they take in the interests of the protection of their lives and limb and that of their families in going forward.”
Complaining that T&T per capital has the highest rate of prison officer killings in the Commonwealth and the worst response from the state, he recalled that in 2015 after the murders of two prison officers they had asked the state to implement a law enforcement officer safety act similar to what exists in the US. He said they also recommended increased penalties for threatening, attacking, maiming and killing law enforcement officials.
After the association threatened legal action over the issue last year, he said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told them a committee would be set up to begin drafting the legislation. However, he said they met only once in February.
“How much more can prison officers take? And I dear say it, if prison officers walk off the job they will have the full support of this president, they will have the full support of all officers in the prison service and the Prison Officers’ Association, because this situation cannot continue,” he said. Richards said they will be awaiting the Prime Minister’s response to this situation and said he hoped good sense will prevail.