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Sunday 15 December 2019
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Manning gets private guards

SEVENTY-FIVE specially trained, armed guards who were previously assigned to the Office of the Attorney General, Legal Affairs and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), have been posted to provide security at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Diplomatic Centre, Whitehall and as personal security detail for Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

The security company which employs the guards is Executive Security Services Limited and the cost is borne by the Office of the Prime Minsiter.

The lowest ranking officer in this security company takes home a monthly salary of between $10,000 and $12,000, while the highest rank receives a salary of $25,000 monthly.

These highly paid officers, some of whom are retired policemen and former MTS guards, have virtually replaced Police Special Branch which previously carried out these duties.

The officers are under the direct control of former Special Branch Head, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Mervyn Guiseppi, who previously headed a special security unit set up in 2002 to provide special security for the offices of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the DPP.

These guards are trained in policing, anti-terrorist activities and VIP security.

Sources told Newsday that shortly before Prime Minister Manning moved into the official residence at St Ann’s last December, the officers of the Executive Security Services Limited were told they were being reassigned, some to the Office of the Prime Minister, others to the official residence of the Prime Minister, another batch to the Diplomatic Centre and others to the personal security detail of the Prime Minister. By the time the Prime Minister moved into the official residence in late December, the officers were already on duty.

Newsday learned that a security firm from San Fernando East called Innovative Security Technologies Limited is now responsible for security at the office of the Attorney General, Legal Affairs and the Office of the DPP.

Police sources said yesterday that the role of Special Branch in terms of providing security for the Prime Minister has been decreased and will decrease even further.

Disclosure of special private security around the Prime Minister, comes at a time when there has been criticism of the formation of crime watch community groups assisted by private armed guards.

Yesterday, Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj who has started using armed guards to patrol and fight crime in his Tabaquite constituency said: “The Prime Minister is concerned only about the personal security of himself and his family and is not concerned about the security of the people of Trinidad and Tobago to have police presence in their communities.

He said that the Government should let the people know about these new security measures. “The fact is that all previous Prime Ministers had the services of the police, army and Special Branch and all of these agencies and manpower were resourced by the State and the taxpayers and the people for greater accountability.”

Sources yesterday could not state whether a tendering process took place before Executive Security secured this contract and what is the value of this contract.

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