PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, October 17, 2018 (CMC) – Prison officers, in Trinidad and Tobago, warned they were prepared to walk off their jobs, as they blamed the State for not ensuring their safety, after a second prison officer was shot and killed, today, the second within the month of October.
“To hell with the State and to hell with the Prison Service. They don’t care about us,” an angry President of the Prison Officers Association (POA), Ceron Richards, told a news conference, following the murder of 38-year-old Darren Francis, who was shot in the head, outside his home, in south Trinidad, during the early hours of Wednesday.
Flanked by several prison officers, Richards said that they were prepared to walk off the job, and invited the government, of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, to run the prisons.
“We are putting the state on warning. We are going to leave this job. It looks like the Attorney General knows how to do it. It looks like the Minister of National Security can do it. We will leave this job.
“We (are) angry at the state. Imagine in Trinidad and Tobago a cigarette truck has more value that prison officers. They rob a cigarette truck and within minutes there was a response. Officers get killed with impunity and we still have to wait,” he said.
Earlier, National Security Minister, Stuart Young, in a statement expressing condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the late prison officer, said the government is committed to the men and women in the Prison Service.
Young said he has been in communication with the senior security officials, including the Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith.
“There are a number of initiatives that we are currently working on, which are specific to prison officers and are aimed at increasing their safety and security. As stated previously, all arms of National Security stand together and support each other in the fight against the criminal element.
“A number of initiatives were implemented and others are being worked on by the interagency team, set up to address the prison system,” Young said, adding he intends to meet with prison officers to address their concerns.
During the news conference, several prison officers shouted that at least five of their colleagues had died, over the past year.
“The officers are saying they will walk off the job. The officers will leave the job and the prison officers association will support them,” Richards said.
“Dr. Keith Rowley, bring your cabinet and come and man the prison. We have nothing more to say to the state. We are leaving.
“Only one side is dying. The more they’re saying that they’re assisting, officers are dying. They say a Task Force is set up. Where is the result of the Task Force? We are not taking this any longer. The state do(es) not care and if the state do(es) not care, why the hell we should care?” Richards asked.
Earlier this month, acting Superintendent of Prisons, Wayne Jackson, was gunned down outside his Malabar, Arima home, east of here, with the POA describing his murder as a “cowardly and heinous act”.