Minister: 500 police officers on suspension

Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 500 po­lice of­fi­cers in the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) are cur­rent­ly on sus­pen­sion and sick leave.

This was re­vealed yes­ter­day by Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young at a Stand­ing Com­mit­tee Meet­ing in­to the Po­lice Ser­vice in Par­lia­ment.

Joined by Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith, Young was first asked how he in­tend­ed to de­crease the TTPS stag­ger­ing over­time bill which was es­ti­mat­ed at $300 mil­lion in 2018, but the ser­vice spent $366 mil­lion.

The TTPS is plan­ning to spend $311 mil­lion for the next fis­cal year, a de­crease of $55 mil­lion.

Young said in the past cou­ple months, there has been an overview of over­time, while dis­crep­an­cies had been dis­cov­ered.

Notwith­stand­ing that, Young said "au­dit mea­sures" have been put in place to de­crease the bill.

“If there was in fact this in­fla­tion and there is a strong be­lief and ev­i­dence to sup­port that there was an in­fla­tion of the over­time fig­ures,” Young said, when asked by Op­po­si­tion MP Rod­ney Charles how he in­tend­ed to low­er the TTPS’ in­creas­ing over­time bill.

In giv­ing a break­down on the cur­rent man­pow­er of the Po­lice Ser­vice , Young said are 7,200 of­fi­cers in the ser­vice, with an ad­di­tion­al 3,100 SPRs.

The sanc­tioned strength of the TTPS is 7,884, re­sult­ing in a short­fall of 684 of­fi­cers.

Of the 10,300 of­fi­cers, Tabaquite MP Su­ruj Ram­bachan queried how many of­fi­cers have not been work­ing.

Young said to his knowl­edge “about 500 are not ac­tive­ly work­ing.”

The 500, Young said, are those on sus­pen­sion and sick leave.

Young said Grif­fith had re­cent­ly asked the TTPS to give de­tails as to how many of­fi­cers have been on sus­pen­sion, the na­ture of the sus­pen­sions and for how long.

He said 6,694 of­fi­cers and 1,977 SRPs can be placed on du­ty.

“Then out of that there is about a 15 per cent who are on leave at any giv­en point in time out­side of the sus­pen­sion, sick leave and va­ca­tion leave and these types of things.” The 15 per cent, Young said, rep­re­sents 1,000 of­fi­cers.

“So you have about 6,000 of­fi­cers now out of the 7,200,” Ram­bachan said, as he tried to give a re­al­is­tic fig­ure as how many of­fi­cers would be on ac­tive du­ty on two or three eight-hour shifts.

Young said some branch­es of the ser­vice such as GEB and Spe­cial Branch may work 24 hours.

Ram­bachan said there was a feel­ing by cit­i­zens that when you call a po­lice sta­tion for as­sis­tance “we don’t have po­lice­men avail­able. And I am try­ing to es­tab­lish re­al­ly how many po­lice of­fi­cers are on ac­tive du­ty on a shift? And it can­not be 7,000.”

Young said he was told that be­tween 1,600 to 2,000 would not be on du­ty.

“So now you come down to 4,400 of­fi­cers,” Ram­bachan replied.

“Is it that the coun­try at any one point in time manned by an equiv­a­lent of about 2,200 to 2,500 po­lice on a shift,” Ram­bachan fur­ther ques­tioned, to which Young replied, “yes.”

Young said there are op­er­a­tional arms in the ser­vice who can be called out in emer­gen­cies cas­es.

With crime grow­ing out of con­trol, Ram­bachan sug­gest­ed that pre­cept­ed of­fi­cers in the T&T De­fence Force can be utilised to sup­ple­ment the TTPS to make it more func­tion­al, but Young turned down his sug­ges­tion.

- by Shaliza Hassanali

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