Two police officers in uniform and using a marked police vehicle allegedly pulled off the daring robbery of over a quarter-million dollars from a courier after setting up a fake roadblock earlier this month.
The officers, an acting corporal and constable, were taken in for questioning on Thursday following an investigation by senior Western Division officers.
According to police sources, the officers had been pointed out in connection with a $250,000 robbery that took place along the Western Main Road in Cocorite on October 3.
The victim, a well-known businessman, who did not want either his name or business identified, confirmed the robbery and the amount stolen to the Guardian Media last evening.
Investigators were told by the victim that he was robbed by the officers, who were dressed in full uniform and using a marked police car. The officers allegedly took $1,500 in cash that he was carrying on his person, as well an estimated $250,000 he was transporting for his company, which represented money from sales.
Guardian Media understands the officers, who are attached to the Western Division, borrowed a marked vehicle from the St James Police Station to do an “extra duty” and reportedly robbed the courier before actually doing the extra duty.
A police source said the key for the vehicle was usually kept in its glove compartment and is not usually one that is required to be booked in and out in the station’s vehicle logbook.
It is believed one of the officers took the vehicle from the station and followed the businessman’s courier money collector, who was picking up sales money at the Tunapuna and Port-of-Spain branches of the popular clothing store. The officer picked up the other officer before they proceeded to set up the fake roadblock, where they allegedly stopped the courier and robbed him of the cash.
The courier made a report to the police station and an investigation led to the arrest of the officers on Thursday – six days after the alleged incident.
PC Phipps is continuing investigations.
Contacted for comment on the issue yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said whilst he wouldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation, he wanted to reassure the public that the police service is being cleaned up of all rogue officers.
“The point being is that this shows the constant activity by the police service in ensuring that we do all that is required to weed out rogue elements in the police service. It is not that we go witch-hunting but nobody is above the law, so where it is people are getting this perception that police will try to protect police, it is not so,” Griffith said.
He said this year’s activity was a continuation of the past two years actions where over 80 officers have been suspended and over 60 officers have been charged for various offences.
“So we are doing all that is required and we will continue to do so. So over the last two years, you speaking about 140-plus officers that have either been suspended based on disciplinary action or charged for offences. So you are speaking about every week a police officer is either suspended or charged in the last two years, so that shows that we do not cover any police wrongdoing.”
Griffith also asked that this latest incident not to be used by the public as an avenue to discredit the police service.
“I will also ask for the public not to use this as an avenue to discredit the police but just the opposite because we are cleaning up the police service. So this should be something that the public should be pleased with, to know that so many police officers are being arrested and if at any time they break the law they will be cleaned up and removed as soon as possible.”
Also contacted yesterday, Police Complaints Authority head David West said they too will initiate a probe into the incident.
Source: TNT Guardian