Keep your political affiliation to yourself.
This was the warning from Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to his officers yesterday as he confirmed an officer who sought to run as a candidate in last year’s local government election was suspended.
On Thursday, former Calypso Monarch Duane O’Connor was suspended from the T&T Police Service for a breach of Section 40 and regulation 139 of the Police Service Act.
That section states, “A police officer is disqualified from membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tobago House of Assembly, or a Municipal Corporation.”
Section 41 of the act states, “(1) Subject to this section, a police officer shall not— (a) in any public place or in any document or any other medium of communication, whether within Trinidad and Tobago or not, publish any information or express any opinion on matters of national security interest or national or international political controversy.”
The suspension letter states that last year, O’ Connor presented himself as a local government election candidate for the People’s National Movement for St Ann’s River South.
O’Connor did not contest the December poll for the PNM as while he had initially been selected, his candidacy had to be rescinded after concerns were raised about his residency.
Griffith did not name O’Connor specifically during the press conference but stressed it was important that the police maintain an impartial image heading into the current election season.
“Every one of my police officers have their right to support who they choose. But that must be done and remain in here (pointing to his head),” Griffith said.
“At any time any police officer in and out of uniform decides to openly condemn a political party or support a political party, or even decide to go up for an election, go up as a candidate, and then after boasts on the front page that he supports the philosophy and the role and function and the principals of a political party, those are the types of police officers that must be immediately disciplined.”
He added, “This has happened recently and with immediate effect that officer has been suspended. I am setting the tone very early before we get into the general election. I have no intention for any police officer to openly show his hand because when this happens, this is going to affect the confidence, the trust would have of the police service in any matter.
“Because we do know that in this country, every decision that is made is based on either red or yellow. Especially with the police service, we arrest this one it’s because we are PNM puppets, we arrest this one because we are UNC puppets. We are not.”
When contacted yesterday, O’Connor said he had no comment on the issue and would have his attorney Keith Beckles speak on his behalf.