Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Williams OK with giving soldiers powers of police; police association calls plan 'retrograde'

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams told the Guardian newspaper he does not have a problem with a government decision to have 1,000 soldiers precepted with full powers as police officers.

National Security Minister Jack Warner announced the plan in Parliament on Monday as part of several anti-crime measures for this year.

However he said in order for the plan to work work efficiently and effectively there must be proper legislation.

He told the paper, "I really believe there should be proper legislation to cover the soldiers because I don’t think it is right that the police seek assistance from the soldiers while the police are empowered under the law and the soldiers are not so empowered. 

“I am of the view there must be some kind of legal coverage of soldiers partnering with the Police Service and at present we have found ourselves requiring key support from the Defence Force.”

Williams noted that soldiers have always supported the police in key activities. He said this kind of collaboration led to the formation of the Inter-Agency Task Force more than 10 years ago.

"In principle I have no problem with laws being amended or adjusted or provided to facilitate soldiers being empowered to function as a key support unit of the Police Service,” the acting police chief said.
While Williams is supportive there is a lot of resistance from his own officers.

The Police Association’s secretary Sgt Michael Seales has called the move retrograde and added that it would be detrimental to the public’s confidence in the Police Service. He said it would also erode police morale.
“First we must look at it in the context that soldiers are trained killing machines and ill-equipped to deal with members of the public...a soldier is not a public officer," Seales said.

"In the first instance, a soldier does not know what to look for when it comes to evidence and therefore would run the risk of picking up people off the streets willy-nilly. Even in housing prisoners there must be certain rules and regulations which must be meticulously followed.

“We as police officers also have to a duty to safeguard the public from such matters...
we are making it very clear that soldiers must not go beyond their bounds.”

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai