TTPSSWA Urges Reinstatement of Order for Easier Firearm Access for Law Enforcement in Trinidad and Tobago

6e0ee137921387adf7ab256cb4e3def3ttps Police Officer On Duty
TTPS Police Officer On Duty

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA) is advocating for the reinstatement of a departmental order that simplifies the process for law enforcement officials to access firearms. This call was made by ASP Gideon Dickson, the head of the association, during a press conference at Riverside Plaza in East Port of Spain.

The order in question, Departmental Order 49 of 2007, allowed members of law enforcement – including police, prison officers, Defence Force members, customs officials, and cadets – to renew their Firearms User’s Licences (FULs) without submitting the same documents required of the public. These documents included certificates of competence and good character, and a medical certificate of fitness. This exemption was revoked as of January 9, 2024, by Departmental Order 4 of 2024, a decision made without prior consultation with the Association or clear reasoning from the executive.

Dickson acknowledged the need for continuous re-examination of skills and mental and psychological fitness for FUL holders. However, he criticized the abrupt revocation of the 2007 order, highlighting the challenges it poses for law enforcement officers who rely on firearms as essential tools of their trade.

The Association views this change as a regressive decision and advocates for a culture of training and recertification preceding any certification process for police officers and other law enforcement personnel. Dickson also recommended a six-month waiver period for all members of the protective services to comply with the new requirements.

The sudden policy change has placed many in law enforcement in a difficult situation. Dickson emphasized the distinction between law enforcement officers, who are experienced and trained in firearm usage, and the general public, who may not have the same level of familiarity with firearms. The decision, according to Dickson, compromises the safety of these officers.

In response to recent incidents involving police officers and Defence Force members using service-issued firearms in criminal activities, Dickson clarified that these incidents are unrelated to the revocation of the order. He explained that the issuance of service weapons is governed by a different process than the issuance of FULs. The TTPSSWA’s stance focuses on the need for a balanced approach that ensures both the effectiveness and the safety of law enforcement personnel in their duties.

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