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Officers not trained to beat – Ex-COP

Officers  not trained  to beat – Ex-COP

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While executing an arrest, police officers are allowed to use reasonable force if the person resists, but nowhere in their training are they instructed to slap or beat civilians.

This is according to former Commisioner of Police (COP) Michael Charles, who, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, described reasonable force as the judgement used by an officer to subdue a person who is resisting arrest.

Charles explained that reasonable force ranges from calling out to the individual being arrested, using handcuffs or using a firearm when a weapon is pulled.{{more}}

The former COP strongly held that slapping an individual is abuse and not reasonable force.

“If I arrest you, have you in a handcuff or so on, I have no right to slap you. If I do that, that’s abuse of powers, “ he said and maintained that the law does not justify these actions.

“There is no way in the training of a police officer they say that that person is being arrested and is to be beaten.”

Charles said the correct procedure for an officer making an arrest without a warrant is to identify him or herself, point out the offence and inform the civilian they are under arrest.

He stated that a police officer found guilty of beating a civilian could also find himself in “a lot of trouble” and added that one of the practices of the force is to obtain a search warrant if someone does not cooperate.

“The police high command doesn’t condone these types of actions and once they’re

reported, they would be dealt with,” he said.

“Several officers have been taken to the court and found guilty too for these type offences, so the police is nowhere justified to break the law.”

Between June 17 and August 12 this year, a number of persons have complained about members of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) beating them during raids or searches.

Last Wednesday, Bequia resident Shimroy Stowe turned up at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court with a swollen face, a bruised shoulder and elbow and a burst lip. He also complained about pains in his jaw and at the back of his head, injuries he alleges he received at the hands of an RRU officer.

Additionally, during “Operation Illegal Guns” at Rose Place last month, during which police netted a gun, illegal drugs, money and contraband items, a number of residents complained of being roughed up by members of the search party.

During the recent Carnival season, a teenager alleged that officers kicked him into a gutter at the Central Police Station, causing him to receive stitches to the back of his head. The teen said officers later held that he fell and injured himself.

In June, a situation erupted in South Rivers, in which an angry mob of residents threw a number of items at members of the RRU, who had allegedly beaten 31-year-old Duran Gerald into a state of unconsciousness.

In an interview, Gerald told SEARCHLIGHT that when he regained consciousness, he was threatened by police and beaten with a hose, “and one took my shoes and beat me in my face and chest.”

During that same incident, Shanika Neverson, 23, also alleged that an officer struck her on the left side of her face so hard that when she inhaled she began spitting blood. It is also alleged that another woman from the area was hit her in her face by an officer, with his open hand.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, head of RRU Timothy Hazelwood condemned the act of officers beating civilians.

He said,“Today’s policing is more about professionalism,” adding that policing has evolved from years ago when officers would hit civilians.

“I don’t think it is correct for police officers to beat anybody,” Hazelwood maintained.

The experienced police officer, who has been head of the RRU for two years, said he has not himself observed the incidents, but persons have made complaints and he usually advises them to make a report to the Police Public Relations and Complaints Division.

Hazelwood said at a recent meeting to discuss the allegations, he urged his unit to refrain from such actions. He said he believes in letting matters be dealt with in court, adding that the Commissioner shares the same view.

Attempts to contact newly appointed COP Renold Hadaway proved futile.

In a previous interview with SEARCHLIGHT, lawyer Grant Connell said the relationship between police and the society has broken down tremendously and must be fixed.

“If we don’t do that and the police continue the way they are going, they can awake a sleeping lion and you really don’t want to do that,” he added.

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