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Top cop backs Jack on soldier powers

Police Commissioner Stephen Williams.

PORT OF SPAIN — Despite concerns raised by his own officers over the plan to have 1,000 soldiers precepted with full powers as police officers, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams is welcoming the move.

The initiative was announced by National Security Minister Jack Warner in Parliament on Monday as part of several anti-crime measures for this year.

Williams, in a telephone interview yesterday, said he was aware of the plan and had no problem with it as the soliders continued to lend key support to the Police Service, especially in instances of joint army/police patrols and other anti-crime operations. He said, however, if the initiative was to work efficiently and effectively there must be proper legislation.

He added: “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.”

He added that soldiers always have supported the police in key activities, noting such collaboration resulted in the formation of the Inter-Agency Task Force, a combination of the Police Service and the Defence Force which was formed more than 10 years ago.

He said: “While police officers are out on the field they are provided with certain powers and authority the soldiers are not so empowered. 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.” (Guardian)

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