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Police should brush up on laws of land – reporter

Police should brush up on laws of land – reporter


Journalist Ari Shaw is calling for police officers to be given additional courses on the laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, saying he was assaulted by a police officer outside the Serious Offences Court when he attempted to take a photo.{{more}}

Shaw, a SEARCHLIGHT employee, said that he was assaulted by a member of the Special Services Unit (SSU), while trying to take a picture of a man accused of murder, outside the Serious Offences Court.

“Friday before last, I went outside the Serious Offences Court to take a picture of a man accused of murder who was seated at the back of the pick-up. I was not sure which of the men was the accused, so I went to an SSU police officer and I asked him ‘officer which one of these guys is accused of murder’, and the response he gave me was kind of ‘standoffish’ so I just decided to leave this man alone.

“After I got confirmation of which one was the accused, I held up the camera to take a picture of him and the same SSU officer grabbed the camera, and pushed it down. He had a M16 in his hand and he shoved me and told me ‘no picture taking here’,” he added.

The young journalist said that he then questioned the police as to why he was not allowed to take any pictures.

“I asked him ‘why’, and he replied ‘don’t do that; you ain’t supposed to take no picture’. I said ‘no, you can’t give a good reason why and I am doing my job’. I raised the camera again and he tried to push me again and I blocked his hand. Then another police officer chimed in, saying ‘oh, you assaulting the police officer and the officer was just doing his job’,” the irate journalist pointed out.

The journalist said that a court officer then had to explain to the SSU officer that he was, in fact, wrong and Shaw [the journalist] was, in fact, allowed to take photographs of the accused.

Shaw who has been employed at SEARCHLIGHT for nine months stated that this is the first time he had experienced anything of this sort.

He stated that he believes that while a policeman’s job is to enforce the law, it is difficult to do, since it seems most police officers are not fully aware of the laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You are an SSU officer; you are on the street with a weapon, you are supposed to know the laws.”

He suggested that police be given refresher courses after they have been enlisted in the force to ‘brush up on the laws of the land’, and while he is not expecting them to be ‘lawyers,’ he expects them to be at least well versed in the law.

Shaw also stated that there needs to be some tact in the way police officers address citizens.

“If you believe that I am not allowed to take pictures and you are stopping me, say ‘sir, you are not supposed to take pictures.’ You don’t jump from zero to 100…shoving somebody for no reason.

“That is why people would always cry police brutality, because the first thing some police do is hit and if it were the other way around, I would have been charged with assault, if I had shoved the officer,” he added SEARCHLIGHT contacted the Commissioner of Police (COP), who stated that he is not aware of any law that prevents a journalist from taking picture outside of the court.

He also pointed out that police are often given refresher courses and would soon be having a meeting pertaining to the Trespass Act.

The Commissioner also suggested that the journalist file a complaint with the Public Relations and Complaints Department. (CM)