Sunday, March 3, 2013

Heerah: Cordner wanted to introduce special unit, was never authorised to act on behalf of ministry

The EXPRESS newspaper reported Sunday that a report by director of the National Security Operations Centre (NSOC) Garvin Heerah said that retired police sergeant Mervyn Cordner posed as an official of the Ministry of National Security but was never hired as part of any flying squad.
File: Mervyn Cordner

The report in the Express quoted Heerah as saying: "Mr Cordner was also firmly cautioned that he (Cordner) was to desist from referencing the ministry in any of his endeavours, as word had come to hand that he was engaging citizens on the pretence of being a Ministry of National Security official as well as at times an immigration consultant."

Heerah's top priority report was submitted to line Minister Jack Warner who subsequently handed it to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Based on that report and one by Warner, Persad-Bissessar concluded that Warner did not know of a Flying Squad. She directed the acting police commissioner to investigate and take appropriate action.

Cordner had claimed that the Flying Squad had been carrying out covert operation for six months. Warner insisted that never gave approval for such an operation.

The Express said Heerah reported that Cordner visited the ministry on numerous occasions but never met officially with ministry officials in those meetings. "He had adopted an approach of turning up unannounced and the occasions where it was possible, I met with him," he stated.

"During these unscheduled meetings, Mr Mervyn Cordner began proposing a very limited and unstructured plan for a Special Police Unit. He continued in the meetings that followed to purport himself as the director of this unit. At one of these meetings he stated he had information to arrest criminals. The criminals he mentioned were suspect gang members and according to his verbal brief, suspect murderers," said Heerah.

Heerah said he told Cordner that only police could make arrests and that if he had "actionable intelligence" he should pass it to the police.

The paper also reported that Heerah said Cordner also stated in an informal meeting that he had a group of men who were operating 'voluntarily' and they wanted to assist the crime reduction initiative. 

Heerah's statement added: "He further mentioned in the same meeting that he had 'connections' that allowed him the use of a place to hold meetings with his group, at no cost, agreed upon between Mr Mervyn Cordner and the owner of the property. 

"At no time did the ministry give any undertaking to rent any property nor did any representative from the ministry visit these premises."

Heerah stated that he pointed out that he had to caution Cordner on numerous occasions that he had no authority to operate any 'unit', the paper reported.

"The stand taken by the Ministry was: Once you had any credible information, bring it and it would be passed on to the relevant TTPS authority, for action. When questioned why he (Mr Cordner) did not want to go straight to the TTPS, he constantly replied that there was a great concern of corruption and trust issues within the TTPS and he was not impressed with the present TTPS Leadership," Heerah was quoted as saying in the report.

The paper stated that Heerah's report said Cordner persisted in trying to convince him that the ministry needed a New Flying Squad Investigation Unit to deal with the country's crime problem.

"As a way forward and mainly because there was no authority or approval to operate, I took a decision to request a comprehensive list of this voluntary group of men, who were so interested in joining the fight against crime, and with reference to Mr Cordner's verbal brief, 'that they were all retired police officers'," the report stated

The Express report continued: "Heerah said he subsequently approached acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams for advice and guidance to determine if the CoP was interested in making Cordner's voluntary group of men Special Reserve Police (SRPs) to complement the manpower of the police as there was neither authority nor approval to form any 'unit'.

"He said Williams dismissed the suggestion and Cordner was informed of that decision."


From the archives: Cordner named in Scott Drug Report

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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