Two Trinidad cops banned from driving after wrecking two new patrol SUVs

The scene of the accident involving two police SUVs and a panel van along the Southern Main Road in Chin Chin, Cunupia, yesterday.

(Trinidad Guardian) Two po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in a ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent in Cen­tral Trinidad yes­ter­day will no longer be al­lowed to dri­ve whilst on du­ty.

The of­fi­cers, who are mem­bers of the re­cent­ly launched Emer­gency Re­sponse Unit, were each dri­ving brand new SU­Vs when they were in­volved in a ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent with a pan­el van along the South­ern Main Road in Chin Chin, Cunu­pia.

How­ev­er, a se­nior po­lice source told Guardian Me­dia last evening that Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith or­dered that the of­fi­cers be de­barred from dri­ving while on du­ty in fu­ture af­ter it was de­ter­mined that were in­volved in reck­less dri­ving along the road­way.

The se­nior of­fi­cer said through the new GPS sys­tem in the ve­hi­cles they were able to as­cer­tain that both dri­vers were go­ing at a speed of 90 km/h on the main road and pri­or to the crash were al­so trav­el­ling on the high­way at a speed of 145 km/h. The dri­vers we re­port­ed­ly al­so not even re­spond­ing to a trou­ble call at the time but re­turn­ing to their re­spec­tive sta­tions af­ter col­lect­ing a po­lice ve­hi­cle which had been sent for main­te­nance.

Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands this is the first time such dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion will be tak­en for such an of­fence in the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice.

Guardian Me­dia con­tact­ed Grif­fith for com­ment on the mat­ter last evening, but he did not want to com­ment on the spe­cif­ic is­sue as there still needs to be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. How­ev­er, said his con­cern about yes­ter­day’s in­ci­dent was that such reck­less dri­ving could al­so have led to the loss of life.

Grif­fith added that he is now mon­i­tor­ing all po­lice ve­hi­cles through the new GPS sys­tem. He al­so said dis­tress calls will be grad­ed based on the threat, which will now dic­tate how quick­ly of­fi­cers should dri­ve to re­spond to an in­ci­dent. He said this will be to en­sure that po­lice re­sources are not abused.

Con­tact­ed yes­ter­day on the de­ci­sion, Po­lice Ser­vice So­cial and Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, In­spec­tor Micheal Seales, said he sup­ports the dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion, say­ing po­lice of­fi­cers should not be break­ing the law to en­force the law.

“Even if you’re rush­ing to any call for ser­vice and if it is, in fact, an emer­gency you must obey the speed lim­it and that is why even in a high-speed chase we en­cour­age of­fi­cers to use their ra­dios, the ra­dios are faster than the cars.”

Seales said there were al­so past court mat­ters which show that al­though the pro­tec­tive ser­vices are re­spond­ing to an emer­gency they can­not break the law. He cit­ed a for­mer case where the dri­ver of a fire ten­der ig­nored a stop sign and col­lid­ed with a ve­hi­cle, killing some­one. He said the court still found the fire­man cul­pa­ble for manslaugh­ter.

Seales ad­mit­ted that what Grif­fith was now do­ing is en­forc­ing prin­ci­ples that are al­ready there, which is a change from what was hap­pen­ing be­fore.

“He (the com­mis­sion­er) made it dis­tinct­ly clear that in or­der to pre­serve the re­sources you have to do what is right. It’s on­ly when you go in­to high-speed chas­es, that now takes you in­to the realm of reck­less­ness, that does not make sense.”

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