T&T Prisons Commissioner: Killing us is not the solution

Devendra Boodooram

(Trinidad Guardian) Four men believed to be associated with the Rasta City Gang have been arrested in connection with the murder of prison officer Devendra Boodooram. Police said the four men from the Basilon Street area were held on Friday however, by Saturday evening, two of them were released.

Police said they are receiving closed circuit television CCTV footage as they question the two men and look for others that may have been a part of the killing. Around 5 pm on Friday, Boodooram was killed while in traffic along Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain. His killing came after death threats were posted on social media after his colleagues were recorded kicking prisoners while the inmates were tied up. Police said a gunman walked up to his vehicle and shot him at least four times in the head and chest. The killer ran up Frederick Street and across Oxford Street, heading toward Charford Courts. Police said the killer came out of a vehicle that was seen near the prison moments before the murder took place.

Speaking with the media at Boodooram’s Lopinot home on Saturday, Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson said killing prison officers was not the solution to the ills facing the prisons system.

“But at the end of it, we have to do some introspection and we have to realize we have been going down a slippery slope and we are probably near the edge and killing officers, attacking officers, is not the solution. Something happen. Social media has its strength, but it has its weaknesses. And one of those weaknesses is that if only one side of a story is shown over and over it creates an emotion in people and they have a lot of naysayers and people making comments….and their information is ambiguous and that is my mantra. They are speculating and saying a lot of things without real foundations or truth in these comments,” Wilson said.

He said he was not 100 per cent sure that the killing of Boodooram, who worked in the construction department, was directly linked to Tuesday’s search which resulted in drugs being found in the locker of a prison officer who is currently on sick leave, $17, cigarettes, wrapping paper, cellphones and chargers and razor blades.

Wilson called on those who are rejoicing over the death of Boodooram to sit with his widow, who told Guardian Media on Friday that her husband boasted that if anything were to happen while he was at work, the inmates would take care of him. He said the duties of a prison officer is looked at with scorn but his officers work hard and even after losing a comrade, showed up to work yesterday.

“I hope that one day the public understands the value of a prison officer. I would like to commend my officers for being strong, and we have to continue. I will continue. This does not deter me from helping inmates because not all inmates are the same, there are good ones.”

Today the Prisons Officers’ Association will meet with National Security Minister Edmund Dillon as their talks continue into how prison officers can be safeguarded both on and off duty. Boodooram is the third prison officer to be murdered in the past four months. On October 8, Richard Sandy was shot dead in a bar in south Trinidad. On October 26, Glenford Gardner was killed at Sea Trace, Bagatelle, Diego Martin.

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