Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Prison officer slain, retired member escapes bullets

Trinidad Guardian:-The Prison Officers Association (POA) was yesterday tracking down all their members living in west Trinidad following the murder of one of their colleagues and attempted murder of another who recently retired.

According to the POA, Gideon Granger was with a friend heading out of Cocorite yesterday when the friend’s car was shot at twice. The shooting took place one day after an inmate at the Port-of-Spain Remand Yard warned that officers living in the west would be killed after a cell search at the facility.

Hours after the search, officer Glenford Gardner, 44, was ambushed around 7.30 pm and murdered while outside a house he owned at Sea Trace, Savannah Road, Diego Martin. When the T&T Guardian visited the area yesterday, residents said Gardner did not live in the area and only came to collect rent. One resident said Gardner, the captain who transported prisoners to Carrera Island Prison, had a land dispute at one of the three homes he owned in the Bagatelle area, but did not believe his killing was linked to that.

Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Granger, who resigned from the service last December, said there is nowhere prison officers can hide if they are wanted by criminals. Granger said he was a friend heading out of Waterhole, Cocorite, where he lives, when he heard the gunshots and the vehicle being hit around 10.15 am. He said the incident solidified his resolve to leave the service. Asked if he was now considering leaving the West he said yes, adding he has a pending Housing Development Corporation (HDC) application awaiting relocation.

“It have nowhere safe you know, because it is a network, they could get you wherever you go,” Granger said.

The officer, who spent 19 years in the service, said the death of Gardner, who joined the service with him, will be treated as the other murdered prison officers, with temporary anger then it would be back to normal.

POA secretary Gerard Gordon, who trained with both Gardner and Granger, said the officers are tired of their colleagues being murdered and the deafening silence of those in authority. The association has threatened a mass exodus of officers if their safety concerns are not adequately addressed.

Gordon said on average 300 inmates are relinquished into the custody of police officers to be taken to court and some inmates have returned with fast food and other things they could not get on their own. He said some contraband will be missed in the “never ending game of cat and mouse,” but it was not only rogue prison officers who facilitate the influx of contraband, which is a flourishing business in the prison.

“This thing bigger than the jail. We do not have society’s help. So today is us and who is next? Who will the criminal be offended by, so they will come to kill? I am fed up! It is too much too soon,” Gordon said.

Both Gordon and Granger described Gardner as a “cool one” who was not into social media and posing for photographs. The father of one, they said, loved his job and lived alone. Gardner’s killing comes 19 days after fellow prison officer Richard Sandy was killed by an ex-convict at a bar in South Trinidad one day before his birthday on October 8.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon yesterday condemned the killing and assured all resources are being used to “treat with this heinous act.” In a release, Dillon said attacks on service members will not be tolerated since they work tirelessly in maintaining peace and security in the country.

“No stone will be left unturned in bringing all perpetrators of attacks against national security officers to swift justice. These criminals will feel the full brunt of the law. Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service and all arms of law enforcement are assured that the Government will be giving priority attention to strengthening the safety and security of officers,” Dillon said. (See editorial on Page A16).

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams also condemned the killing, adding he had committed all the required resources needed in pursuing Gardner’s killer/s, “to bring them to justice within the shortest possible time.”



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