27 Dec 2010

C’est la vie

I’ve oft had to repeat myself on this blog. A simple search of “crash dummies” will explain what I mean.

Despite a breathalyser law/device coming into effect some time ago, there is the usual road fatalities for the Christmas period. Trinis like their rum, after all. Now, the articles from the different newspapers did not specifically mention alcohol; but it is part of the Trini culture embedded into the people. The police annually have to send out caution messages.

The deaths of Daljir, Ramroop and Jane Rampersad-Reichel, 49, of Pro Queen Street, Arima, brought to eight, the number of people killed in vehicular accidents over the past two days. On Christmas Eve, four Guyanese nationals—Redison Roberts, 38, his wife Indrani Roberts, 28, Wrenson Lewis, 34, his Trinidadian wife Melissa Watteron-Lewis, 24, and their two-year-old daughter Renesha died when their car ran off the road.

8 deaths. 8 which might have been avoided with a little caution, less speed and more thought on arriving safely. C’est la vie!

On another topic:

PRISONS COMMISSIONER John Rougier says he does not intend to subject his senior officers to scrutiny searches while entering the prisons because statistics have shown that the corrupt officers were within the junior ranks.

Commissioner Rougier said he stands firm in his decision that his senior officers would not go through scrutiny searches because the officers are not involved in the trafficking of drugs and contraband into the prisons.

Rougier said, “I would not allow my senior officers to come out of their cars to go through a baggage scanner system. What is happening is that we have systems in place where we search under people’s cars and that their trunks will be opened.”

“All officers including senior officers would be subjected to that, but I am not prepared to have my senior officers come out of their car and go through a baggage scanner.  Mr Richards farse with himself... as far as I am concerned he is farse and out of place,” Rougier said during a telephone interview on Friday.

He added, “The thing about it is that they (POA) are bringing a lot of allegations to distract from the problems in the systems where the rogue and young officers are concerned, and are always trying to bring my senior officers in the fray.”

Rougier said he was certain that his senior officers are not engaged in the illegal trafficking trade within the prisons.

“I know my senior officers and they are not corrupt officers. When they come to a station to do their work and carry out supervision and monitor the same junior officers. I trust my senior officers and let me tell you something, my senior officers are not involved in this trafficking,” he said.

“People could say what they want, but I know my senior officers and they are not involved in this drug trafficking and bringing in cell phones and all this sort of thing for inmates.

He added, “I am confident about that and as a matter of fact they (senior officers) have been putting pressure on junior officers... Mr Richards is only farse with himself and that’s the level of disrespect that Mr Richards and the association have for senior officers. That is what is creating the indiscipline within the service where a man can go on the radio and speak that disrespect, going to the public and implying that senior officers are involved in trafficking,” Rougier said.

However, in response to Rougier’s statements, president of the POA Rajkumar Ramroop yesterday maintained that both senior and junior officers should go through the same level of searches.

He said there are similar systems in prisons across the Caribbean, where every member of staff is subjected to scrutiny searches.

First of all, the statistic that ‘show the corrupt officers were within the junior ranks’ doesn’t necessarily explain why only junior officers are caught… for obvious reasons. Neither does it explain that junior officers can’t really be corrupt unless that corruption is condoned and/or shared by senior officers.

Like judges ruling to exempt themselves from the Integrity Act, this decision by Rougier shouts to the rooftops that the senior officers do have something to hide. I can well believe the reporter who wrote:

Three weeks ago, there were allegations that a senior officer assigned to the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca, had given a prisoner a quantity of marijuana and other contraband items.

A search was conducted on the inmate’s cell but the drug was found in the court yard. Police who were called to the facility believe that the inmate tossed the drug through his window moments before the search.

One of the officers who conducted a search at the inmate’s cell was subsequently transferred to the Port of Spain State Prison, the Express was told.

Of course, now we must understand that a junior officer, deemed corrupt by his boss, will eventually get promoted and … upon promotion to senior, go on the straight and narrow…

Take Don Mascal, pictured on the left. Last year Mascal, who has 18 years service as a Prison’s Officer, was arrested.

Officers from the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Interdiction Bureau, reacting to information received, conducted a search of the prisons officer’s vehicle. They discovered and seized the quantity of marijuana, as well as several “contraband” items.

The items included a bottle of alcohol, ten cigarette lighters; three cell phones; three cell phone chargers; nine packets of wrapping paper for the marijuana; seven packets of hemp; three cartons of Du Maurier (20 per pack); one carton of Du Maurier (10 per pack); and 21 packets of assorted cigarettes. Mascal was found with the drugs while parked outside of the Port-of-Spain Prison.

C’est la vie.