Special reserve police officers—The powers they have
 Inicio > Internacionales | Publicado el Viernes, 02 de Diciembre del 2016
Special reserve police officers—The powers they have

The trinidad Guardian / IAN KEVIN RAMDHANIE


Caribbean Institute for Security

and Public Safety

There is confusion among members of the public about the accurate status of special reserve police officers (SRPs). In fact, some whom we call ‘regular’ police also have inaccurate views about SRPs. They are generally seen as a lesser version of police and this may have contributed to the diminished self-perception of the SRPs themselves.

SRPs are not a recent phenomenon in T&T as they were established 70 years ago via Act 14, 1946 and several amendments have been made to that legislation thereafter. However, it is widely felt they haven’t been given their just recognition. Hopefully, the following section of the law should clear up all such doubts:

"Every member of the SRP while on duty in the capacity of a member shall have, exercise and enjoy all the powers, authorities, privileges and immunities, and shall perform all the duties and have all the responsibilities of a member of the Police Service constituted under the Police Service Act." Section 18(1).

Simply put, SRPs have all the powers of ‘regular’ police and an SRP is said to be on duty whenever he is called out for any service. For that reason, the Ministry of National Security and the T&T Police Service (TTPS) should embark on education campaigns on the powers and authority of the SRP to clear up any misconceptions about ‘regular’ vs special reserve police officers.

SRPs can be called out for service full-time, part-time, or on a temporary basis. If you visit any police station at any time, there will be SRPs there carrying out normal police functions. They can be called out for service to deal with any actual or threatened cases of external aggression and internal disturbances by the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police, as well as by any other First Division Officers.

Further, the Police Commissioner can call out SRPs for service when additional police officers are needed to preserve good order, to protect persons and property, or to perform any other duties usually performed by members of the police service. SRPs must perform all duties assigned to them.

There are many forbidden behaviours applicable to SRPs, including insubordination, wilful disobedience of a lawful order, contravention of any duties, absence from parade, drill or duty without leave, selling, losing or wilfully damaging his uniform or any other item assigned to him, any act, conduct or neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline, violation of duty in office, or any other misconduct.

If convicted for any of these, the SRP faces a range of punishments, including dismissal, demotion, a fine not exceeding $150 (this should be immediately increased to be a deterrent), or extra parades, drills and duties. In addition, if the SRP refuses or neglects to serve when called out, and is not dealt with in the way above, he shall be fined $300 or serve one month imprisonment upon conviction. This punishment is way too lenient.

Let’s clear up another matter here. There is an incorrect belief in the public domain that an SRP’s functions are limited to where he is working. No! The law states that any member of the SRP can exercise his powers and authority in any part of T&T in accordance with Section 7 (2).

Did you know that SRPs have ranks? The Commissioner of Police is responsible for making these appointments, assigning ranks and postings. The Commissioner may also revoke the appointment of an SRP at any time and an SRP may resign at any time after giving one month’s notice in writing. Many SRPs transition into the ‘regular’ police service after a while.

The public needs to get a clear understanding of the entry requirements of an SRP officer, what training he undergoes, etc, especially as he performs all of the duties of a ‘regular’ police officer. Also, do they benefit from continuous professional development and advanced training like other officers, particularly because they perform the same duties? They should.

Impersonating an SRP carries a fine of $750 or three months in prison. This is another penalty which must be immediately increased. In addition, a person who possesses any badge, baton or other equipment used by an SRP who cannot satisfactorily account for it is liable to the same punishment which is, again, too lenient a sentence.

Did you know SRPs are not regarded as workmen for the purposes of the Workmen’s Compensation Act? However, those principles may be followed in compensating them with respect to permanent disability or death. This should be immediately reviewed as this situation probably contributes to feelings of relative deprivation which may negatively affect work performance. Further, shouldn’t they be compensated like ‘regular’ police officer as they perform the same tasks?

Let us give SRPs the same respect as all police officers because they have the same powers and authority to protect and serve the public with pride.

• There are more than 120 professional development courses for organisations and individuals on customer service for officers, investigations, fraud detection and prevention, CCTV systems, criminal law, corporate security, supervision and management, etc. Tel: 223-6999, 299-8636, [email protected] , or www.caribbeansecurityinstitute.com

Special reserve police officers—The powers they have

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