National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said operations within the firearms unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) are suspended, pending an internal audit.
Speaking today at the Ministry’s head office in Port of Spain, Hinds said the audit was ordered following the submission of a report from an internal investigation into the firearms unit earlier this year.
“There was public disquiet…complaints were coming to ministers of government, to the Chairman of the National Security Council [Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley]…sufficient enough for the Chairman of the Security Council to ask two then recently retired senior operatives of the National Security Platform in the persons of retired ACP Barrington and retired chief of defence staff [Hayden] Pritchard.”
Hinds said Barrington and Pritchard engaged in a “fact-finding exercise” and issued a report to National Security Council, which passed it onto the Police Service Commission (PSC).
“The Council felt that there was sufficient [information] in this report to have shared it with the Police Service Commission (PSC) which was at that time in the process of determining who would be the next Police Commissioner.”
“The PSC considered what was in front of them sufficiently grave and important to ask retired justice of appeal Stanley John to represent it [the PSC] and for John to conduct an investigation.”
Hinds said John then interviewed several people within the police service as well as other investigations and submitted the report to the PSC.
“Mr John found that in his investigation and report, that there were issues that directly impacted the…national security of Trinidad and Tobago, sufficiently so that he shared that report with the Chairman of the National Security Council.”
“I have been mandated by the National Security Council…on the basis of that report…and we agreed that the situation warrants a complete and thorough audit of the firearms licensing regime which is issued through the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”
Hinds said, as a result, several retired officers have been asked to assist with conducting an audit into the operations of the firearms unit, providing a “snapshot” of its current status.
He said the auditing process would take around three months, during which the unit’s operations would be suspended.
“That unit, the firearms registry, is now virtually closed.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said three retired officers will form part of the team.
“It was decided that a comprehensive audit must be done. We have decided to engage and get the support of three of our retirees from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service…together with three police officers and support from the secretariat.”
“We are consultations with ACP Wellington Virgil (retired) ACP Raymond Craig (retired) and Inspector Leonard Charles. These three are respected investigators within the police service, senior officers with experience in all different areas. Craig is specialised in the area of firearm investigation.”
Jacobs said the audit will commence “very soon”.