Erla says TTPS has a clear mandate and officers guided by “use of force” policy

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Erla says TTPS has a clear mandate and officers guided by “use of force” policy

Commissioner of Police, Erla Harewood-Christopher, said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has a clear mandate to preserve the peace, detect crime and other infractions of the law.

These are just a few of the roles and responsibilities performed by Police officers on a daily basis.

She made the statement following comments by the Opposition leader, for officers to stand their ground and use full force when under attack from criminals.

Harewood-Christopher said: “How we perform these duties will determine how we are perceived by the public and whether we are able to garner the trust and confidence that is much needed to discharge our responsibilities.”

“We are granted wide discretionary powers, however, in the exercise of those powers, we are guided by laws and Policies. The Police Service Act 2006, the Criminal Law Act, Section 4(1), and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago to name a few.
The Criminal Law Act, Section 4(1), speaks of ‘the use of force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of a crime, or in effecting or assisting in the arrest of offenders or of persons unlawfully at large.’

“We are reminded at all times that in the exercise of our powers, we must respect the Rule of law and the rights and privileges of all citizens, at all times. We are held accountable for our actions at all times.”

The top cop added that in the performance of their duties, officers are guided by a ‘Use of Force Policy’ which clearly states that ‘a police officer must seek to protect the safety and security of himself/ and others in the performance of his official duty.
“And while we understand that an officer’s decision to use force is sometimes made under ‘difficult, unpredictable and unique circumstances’, when such force is used, it must be necessary, legal and appropriate. If an officer acts outside of this, he would be held accountable.”

“We continue to train our officers in the use of force as guided by the organization’s Use of Force Policy, in which there is a Use of Force Continuum, that guides on the various levels of force that can be employed in response to the resistance given.

She said the continuum goes from:
• Mere presence
• Communication
• Escort Technique
• Mechanical Control
• Chemical Irritants
• Impact Weapon
• Deadly Force

Harewood-Christopher said: “Police officers are also trained in the use of less lethal or intermediate weapons such as the Taser and Pepper spray, in order that they can effectively perform their duties.”

“We are quite aware of the risks and challenges that our officers face on a daily basis. We see the type of weapons that are in the hands of those who are bent on disrupting the lives of our law-abiding citizens. We will continue to remain focused in our efforts to ensure that we provide a safe and secure environment for all.”