Trinidad: 250 guns for prisons officers

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young

(Trinidad Guardian) The con­tracts for “Keep and Car­ry” firearms for pris­ons of­fi­cers were ex­pect­ed to be signed yester­day.

This was an­nounced by Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young dur­ing the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment’s pub­lic meet­ing at the Five Rivers Sec­ondary school on Sat­ur­day evening.

“I’m pleased that fi­nal­ly be­cause some­times things take a bit too long for my lik­ing in the pub­lic ser­vice, we ex­pect to sign the con­tract for the de­liv­ery of 250 firearms for our prison of­fi­cers, keep and car­ry on Mon­day,” said Young.

Young had first an­nounced the in­ten­tion to get 200 to 250 guns for prison of­fi­cers dur­ing last year’s bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion.

In Feb­ru­ary, when 250 stab vests were hand­ed out to prison of­fi­cers, Young had once again promised that the firearms would be com­ing soon.

“It shocked me that the prison of­fi­cers did not have stab vests in the en­vi­ron­ment, we’ve de­liv­ered that and have im­me­di­ate­ly be­gan the pro­cure­ment of more,” said Young.

The an­nounce­ment came days af­ter the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team re­port­ed­ly stopped a hit­man from ex­e­cut­ing an at­tack on a prison of­fi­cer in east Trinidad.

Ear­li­er in the week, a con­fi­den­tial re­port was leaked which stat­ed that five prison of­fi­cers had been tar­get­ed.

Young al­so ad­dressed the leak dur­ing the pub­lic meet­ing.

“You saw what hap­pened this week. Even though some­body leaked a con­fi­den­tial re­port of a threat we picked up, it did not frus­trate our ef­forts. In­tel­li­gence-dri­ven op­er­a­tions picked up the per­pe­tra­tor on the out­side,” said Young, who al­so ex­plained that the re­sponse to threats to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials had changed.

“You put out a threat on a prison of­fi­cer, we’re not leav­ing the prison of­fi­cer and the po­lice to deal with it alone. In­tel­li­gence gets in­volved, the de­fense force gets in­volved,” said Young.

Since 2009, 16 prison of­fi­cers have been killed. Four of them were mur­dered in the last two years. Last Oc­to­ber, two of­fi­cers, Su­per­in­ten­dent of Pris­ons Wayne Jack­son and of­fi­cer Dar­ren Fran­cis were mur­dered out­side their homes.

An­oth­er of­fi­cer, Khalil Baksh’s home was fire­bombed, al­though he es­caped harm.

When con­tact­ed yes­ter­day pres­i­dent of the Prison Of­fi­cers As­so­ci­a­tion Ceron Richards said he was hap­py the min­is­ter ap­peared to mak­ing strides with re­gards to ad­dress­ing the con­cerns of prison of­fi­cers.

“We are see­ing some pos­i­tive moves from the Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty and we will want to en­cour­age this Min­is­ter and Gov­ern­ment to pur­sue these arrange­ments or these im­ple­men­ta­tions which will have far-reach­ing pos­i­tive ef­fect for prison of­fi­cers in the fu­ture,” said Richards in a phone in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

Richards al­so ac­knowl­edged that the joint ac­tion by law en­force­ment agen­cies al­so seemed to be reap­ing pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments for the of­fi­cers.

He said, “Well the morale of prison of­fi­cers have been tak­ing a beat­ing for some time now. You would ap­pre­ci­ate, over the past few years a num­ber of prison of­fi­cers would have been at­tacked, a num­ber of them would have been killed,” said Richards when asked about the men­tal state of the of­fi­cers in the wake of last week’s re­port­ed at­tack, “What we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing now is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween all of the agen­cies in na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty which is bring­ing about some re­sults. We hope that this in­ten­si­fies as we go along.”

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