Special units within the T&T Police Service (TTPS) will soon be equipped with body cameras.
National Security Minister Stuart Young said yesterday that during a meeting with Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, he was told that the units include the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), the Inter-Agency Task Force and Guard and Emergency Branch.
“They are going to be some of the next units to be provided with body cameras by the Commissioner of Police and administrative arm of the Police Service.”
Speaking on the issue, Griffith said did not think there would be any objection to body cameras as they will be equipped to protect the officers.
“The body cameras will now defend my police officers when they are wrongfully accused,” Griffith said.
Officers of SORT are among those now subject to an investigation into the deaths of two suspects in the Andrea Bharatt kidnapping and murder.
The minister, meanwhile, maintains that no external agencies are needed for an investigation into the deaths of the two suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt, Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon.
The two men died while in police custody.
Young addressed a media conference yesterday and responded to calls made by the Law Association of T&T (LATT) to bring in foreign investigators to ensure that the investigation is entirely independent.
Young said he is well aware that Morris and Balcon passed away while under police responsibility.
“As I’ve always said as the Minister of National Security, it is my position that no one is above the law.”
“There should never be a cover-up and everyone is subject to the parameters of the law,” he added.
Young said if there are video recordings of what is alleged to have taken place with Morris while in police custody, he expects whoever is in possession of those recordings will take it to the proper authorities for proper investigation.
He said he had a meeting with Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and the three acting deputies – McDonald Jacob, Beverly Lewis, and Joanne Archie – to ask them and get an account on the allegations.
“As the Minister of National Security and a government, I will never encourage or condone any lawlessness. So from my meeting this morning with the CoP and three acting deputies, I asked them what was taking place with respect to the death of these two individuals whilst in police custody. I was informed firstly, that there was an active ongoing investigation by the PCA (Police Complaints Authority),” Young said.
“I was also told of the following steps taken by the TTPS;
1. The PSB is an active participant in the investigation and has also appointed investigators from the two divisions – these gentlemen were the Northern Division and the North Eastern Division – so investigators from those separate divisions are also part. Officers from Homicide have also been appointed to be part of the body of police officers investigating these incidents,” Young said.
He also disclosed that as of yesterday morning 10-12 reports have already been generated by the police coming out of this investigation which has been sent to the PCA.
“They’ve been provided with all reports coming out of this investigation by what I’ve called a multi-divisional, multi-unit investigation in the TTPS. I was told that police officers also sustained injuries in the circumstances surrounding it. At this stage I cannot say what took place nor can I provide any report in writing.”
He said he was told by police that they were not in possession of the videos from which the allegations stemmed.
“The powers of the authority are sufficient in my respectful opinion, and the PCA has the power to do what we the population is requiring them to do,” he added.
Young reiterated that there has been absolutely no justification for why the PCA isn’t the body that should carry out this type of investigation.
“So at this stage, I don’t think there is any need for foreign aid. Let’s see what the PCA does and if it has further requests, cause the PCA can bring people in and so on, but at this stage, there is no need for it and I was a little surprised to see that suggestion by the law association.”
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith also said yesterday that a full-scale investigation is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of suspects Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon while in police custody.