Colleagues back suspended airport guard in incident with T&T Foreign Minister

Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses listens during debate at the sitting of the Senate.

(Trinidad Guardian) The Estate Police Association of T&T yesterday said it stood behind officer Kelvon Alexander in the recent issue involving Foreign Minister Dennis Moses at the Piarco International Airport.

Speaking yesterday as more information surfaced that Moses may have been involved in other incidents besides the September 21 encounter he had with Alexander, EPATT head Derek Richardson said the association was aware of the assorted reports on Moses.

“It may have been spoken of in hushed tones but we can’t deny reports were made. When situations like these occur it pressures officers and it’s to the credit of the officer in one matter that he stood his ground to ensure the job was done properly,” Richardson said.  Alexander was suspended for two weeks without pay after he attempted to stop Moses and Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis from exiting near the airport’s Duty-Free area when they returned from overseas. Moses subsequently explained he’d been following a protocol officer assisting them, “courtesies” were normally extended and he wasn’t avoiding authorities.

However, the T&T Guardian subsequently received two reports made to airport security officials on other issues involving Moses by-passing security systems in departing T&T.   One report showed an “occurrence” on September 12 when a person didn’t acknowledge the officer/other officers and attempted to access the checkpoint beyond the metal detector near the departure area. When the officer asked if he could help, the person, in a “very rough” tone, responded, “I is a Minister, and I’m going on this flight.” The person was eventually recognised as Moses, the report added. The person said they were a “minister and didn’t have to acknowledge” anyone.” When the officer informed the man his bags would be checked and he should walk through the metal detectors and collect them, the man refused, bypassed the metal detector, collected bags and boarded his flight, the report added.

Another incident on October 27 was noted by a female officer who intercepted a “thin light-skinned gentleman” attempting to pass at the side of the walk-through metal detector. He told her he never screens his bags here or internationally. She insisted on proper procedure and asked to screen his bag and he allowed this. She recognised him as Moses, the report noted. The officer noted she’d previously observed superiors insist that bags “of such personnel must be searched.” There was no mention of protocol officers in either issue.

Yesterday, Richardson agreed protocol officers assisting ministers is a practice, but noted various arrangements are involved. He said airport policies/procedures are guided by international conventions and attempts to by-pass them are serious cause for concern.

“EPATT officers are very efficient with their jobs but they’re being caught in the middle when customers flout regulations,” he said.

He said all members of the public—with ministers as exemplars —should try to adhere to policies including scrutiny necessary.

The AATT on Monday said it couldn’t speak publicly on security issues involving Moses.

Yesterday in the Senate, Moses didn’t reply to T&T Guardian queries, via note, about concerns regarding his by-passing of security systems in the other two issues, why he avoided metal detectors and if he would use protocol officers’ assistance more.

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