Archive for February, 2016

A Host of Errors

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Legal or illegal? Abuse or Procedure? Analyzing Inspector Alexander’s arrest of Ian Alleyne.

Security Scrutiny

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

logo_pending_legislation2In my time being head of department for Training and Development for a major security service provider in TnT, I oversaw directly the training of over 600 Security Officers passing through the mill. I would always tell them at the beginning of the program and at their passing out ceremony “We (training department) don’t produce watchmen or gyuards (local derogatory pronunciation), we produce Security Officers.”  This statement is a sentiment to which I hold a standard and wish that this was so across the board, but there is a sad reality in the security industry which the public is not aware of. In the interest of the public, I’m going to go over the frightening reality of general security ‘officer’ selection and ‘training.’ Then perhaps it won’t seem so shocking that last year a security stabbed a carnival patron to death, and this year a Councillor was beaten to the ground by a group of security mobbing him like wild animals.

(<-Link to video of Security force abuse)

There are approximately 400 security service providers in Trinidad and Tobago. Yes 400. Only 60-70 have a licence from the Ministry of National Security to operate as a legitimate Security Service Provider. The process is tedious and is only necessary for tumblr_m192ijvwoX1qcaycmo1_500those who intend to operate as estate police (having legitimate bodyguard services, armed officers, cash-in-transit, etc), the rest just operate as a regular Limited Liability Company (Ltd.). While there are companies both large and small who take training seriously, investing in their own internal training departments and centres, the majority take it lightly at best. Imagine in many companies you can walk in at 7am, and be uniformed and working on site by time the 8am shift comes along. Protecting property and life just by providing a copy of your ID and a willingness to go to work immediately. A dream for those with no options, and a nightmare for those whose property and lives are in the balance.

As I’ve stated in a previous article (Use of Force as it relates to firearms), there is a way all law enforcement officers, including security, need to size up and address each situation. For each subject action, there is an appropriate officer response, and none include to beat an unarmed man to the ground then continue beating him with kicks to the head and batons raining for chipping in the wrong section. This policy is not even taught standard in most security companies, and even many police officers ignore this despite being taught better. For those who apply it, it can be simple or complex given each situation and I applaud those officers (both security and cjones11292014police) who use their sense and discretion to apply it adequately, for the rest however there needs to be revised and reinforced training. This however needs to go past the area of good will and be mandated by legislation. Ex-National Security Minister Capt. Gary Griffith put forward such legislation at a point, but was ignored by the former AG and the current one has not noticed its importance (or perhaps the draft bill itself) so far. Funny that a potential Bill that was constructed, drenched with sensible and sober safety of the nation, yet ignored by different governments and party supporters because it was yet to hit home.

Now that a popular PNM Councillor has been on the unfortunate end of a collective failure to regulate security, I hope that this will go further than just his personal compensation via law suit and public outcry. This I hope will be used as a pivot point and rallying cry for regulation to be set as to properly and fully functioning laws in place to limit these type of mishaps as soon as possible. This holds the potential to usher in a new age of security for Trinidad and Tobago. Security in first world countries are lucrative careers that some people aim for, rather than just a back up because no other work is available. Why not here? Because we do not value the need for good security personnel until me meet up with the bad ones.

Of Bombs and Blighs

Posted: February 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

I remember 7 months ago being in a military bunkhouse in where seemed like the middle of nowhere. I went on my own accord to do specialized training, that was foreign to operations in TnT, there was a thin air of anxiety. I hadn’t even unpacked yet when I got a message that there was chaos back home. 3 men had escaped the prison, offenders and security officers shot, rumors of ammunition being moved by an ex-special forces solider during the confusion, and of course a lone grenade sitting outside of an occupied police vehicle. Port-of-Spain sounded like a maelstrom of panic and disorder, and the rest of the country moving in a frantic shuffle. 2 of the escapees ended up dead, and 1 turned himself in the following day. The imagery of the ‘dud’ grenade sitting in the drain is embedded in my memory, and given the recent 51 Degrees/Town restaurant robbery and the Mucurapo Road explosion, the phrase “have we learnt nothing?”

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These incidents are far from the first critical incidents to occur in TnT’s short history, however they are the ones that are most pertinent given the backdrop or modern law enforcement/military studies. Warfare and tactics 2 generations ago centred around open battle, 1 generation ago around counter-revolution, and this era is that of urban combat. That is not to say that the each is divorced from each other, however the conditioned thought process sits at the core of the commander in charge. Many 1st world countries targeted by terrorists, and with more radical elements of the public than we are accustomed too had to learn the hard way the first time. This however gives us the chance to learn and prepare, but like the old saying “who doh listen, go feel,” we wait time and time again for things to go more and more wrong. The 51 Degrees/Town restaurant robbery and standoff was a perfect example of just waiting for something disastrous to happen.

hostage-takerFirst of all let me credit the police who dealt with the standoff and thank them on behalf of the public for bringing things to a peaceful end. That being said, watching how they were directed in the 4 hour showdown, and how the situation was approached, it could have been a mess of bodies and chaos if the perpetrator was a little more equipped or aggressively criminally minded. When the thief (who initial sources confirmed was armed), decided to hold up in the building he was robbing, streets were immediately blocked off and tactical units called in to respond. This however was the length and breath of procedure until they got frustrated into throwing a tear gas grenade to smoke the perp out, which they then made a grab inside for. When there is a situation with an armed suspect barricaded in a building, much more should have been done as the situation is now considered a ‘Critical Incident.’ In the US a SWAT team would usually be called in, along with a negotiator. Arguably the Task Force here is akin to a SWAT team, barring a few elementsswat-sniper-920-24. Very important to this would be to place a sharpshooter or police sniper on an adjacent roof to be the eyes of ground command from that angle. Necessary to have a negotiator and sharpshooter or sniper? Not from the end result i.e. how it played out, but what if there was a hostage taken (especially one that could not be confirmed from where the police were on the ground)?
What if there were additional perpetrators hiding inside (supposedly armed). What if he started laying booby traps, or was armed with an explosive device (especially with the popularity of improvised explosive devices)? Finding out that a criminal or situation is more deadly than you prepared for is seen as an unforgivable blunder in law enforcement.

Riot-police-in-Croydon-007Crossing over now to the realm of Counter-Terrorism, treating with explosions and the immediate effects (before there is proper containment), law enforcement is the first respondent both on and beyond the supposed suspected terrorism scene. The explosion on Mucurapo Road is a situation where there was chaos (obviously), and it was discovered that the explosion was caused by the same person 3 years consecutively at different locations a day apart. While the show Criminal Minds comes to thought, this could be anything from a bizarre coincidence to planned chaos. Criminal cells use instances like these to occupy and confuse law enforcement while they conduct a sensitive operation, usually being the transport of equipment that is top priority to them. The rumours of an ex special forces soldier transporting ammunition and arms during the chaos of the PoS prison break seemed plausible at the least. The nation was in panic centred around PoS, and if that lone grenade had gone off there would be sufficient collateral damage and civilian panic to keep the protective services occupied well into the night. Those tactics aren’t random, and aren’t usually attempted by untrained persons. This is not to say that the police did not handle the recent explosion well, however there must be greater National Security coordination to ensure that everywhere else is on high alert for suspicious activity while a critical incident is unfolding.

While we have come a long way in equipment, training, and personnel, there still seems to be much to be desired. Equipment evaluation, improved training methods, and ways to integrate a wider range of personnel into service are all needed. Unless there is a revamp of the system and a change in the efficiency we approach things, the public will remain to take the protective services less seriously, and the servicemen themselves will be put in further unnecessary danger. Until then, we are just waiting for a total disaster to happen….for now, we run on our Blighs…BePrepared


(Note: I base the above on my analysis of the situations with information provided, and on the background of being a certified US Anti-Terrorism Officer, Certified in Tactical Law Enforcement operations/weapons, certificates in Critical Incident Management and Hostage Negotiation, as well as being a professionally trained sharpshooter and urban sniper).

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Paul-Daniel Nahous BS, CHS-I, ATO
Law Enforcement Consultant
Combat Specialist

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Immediately after a deadly Police shooting the general question comes from the civilian population “Why didn’t they shoot him in the leg or arm?!” The tone is then set portraying law enforcement as either malicious or incompetent. While not all shootings are void of either (sometimes containing elements of both),  all cases are usually thrown into the public forum as such, which is largely unfair. I’d like to shed some light on the situation and procedure involved in these perceived instances of reckless force, which take the form of two concepts; Procedure and Proficiency.

AD2An Officer trained properly in every situation should see things through the visor of the Use of Force continuum. ‘A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officers and civilians with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation.’ This standard is used worldwide and most models resemble each other identically in theory, with some being more elaborate and others less so. Each and every situation where there is suspected criminal activity or resistance even by body language, there is a proper amount of force to be used to equate to it or to be used less than it. For the purpose of this explanation in police shootings we’ll be focusing on ‘Deadly Force.’ When someone draws a deadly weapon, Lethal force is not only necessary, but many times mandated. When a knife is drawn, once the assailant is in adequate distance to lunge at an officer or civilian, he can inflict a mortal wound. Worse yet with a firearm, the international procedure being in general that once the assailant points the barrel towards anyone the officer should open fire. There is a thin line between use of force levels, and even thinner between life and death. Once deadly force is apparent, officers are trained to respond with a shot to the body. This of course leads to the other considerations of disarming, “why not take away the knife, why not shoot to disable rather than kill?”

First of all anyone who thinks taking away a knife from an assailant is an easy or plausible task either hasn’t been trained well, or hasn’t been in a serious knife fight. Personally, I have 3 black belts and an instructor’s certificate in close quarters military combat, and if I have a gun, I’d prefer to open fire any day. The public often thinks of officers as tools rather than people with families and lives that matter, and at the same time many attorney’s focus on ‘rights of the criminal’ before lives of the innocent bystanders. Meeting deadly force with less than deadly force is often fool-hearted at best. In terms of the proficiency in training, it may shock many people to know that all law enforcement officers are not at a professional mma fighter level, or Wild Bill Hickok level shooters. Nor do they need to be.

c_e_o_criminal_entitlement_organization_t_shirt-rc48732bf161a4cd8a9095d681f352f4c_804gy_324Security is a major function of law enforcement, and most of that deals with being vigilant and being able to respond at a basic level (much report writing and being a deterrent to criminal activity by presence), being trained to respond to the most serious threats as a last resort. That being said, most persons who call on regular officers to make ‘crack-shots’ to the arm or leg, as if it is simple have probably never handled a firearm, nor been in a potential firefight. Even tactically trained men are taught to shoot to the ‘centre-mass’ of the target because simply put it is the most likely to hit. This is important far beyond just the assailant being shot, think of what happens if the shot misses? The officer would be putting innocent bystanders at risk. There is a reason the NYPD use hollow-point bullets now, not just because it causes more damage, but is far less likely to penetrate through the back of a single target. Note that there are very well trained tactical units and officers trained as sharpshooters who can place their shots at different points on the target, but this is far a few between. Those as well who can literally shot a gun out of an assailant’s hand are usually trained snipers, who would prefer still to go for a meatier target. Next time you think police shooting, ditch what action movies have programmed into us from a young age, and think rationally, i.e. consider the above.

confused-too-many-choices-arrow-street-signs-several-colorful-words-illustrating-paralysis-immobility-you-can-31864922In some societies however they use less than lethal weapons (taser guns for example) to deal with anything short of a firearm threat. It is important to note though that those societies do not equip regular law enforcement officers with firearms, and this is so because the general level of threat in public is very low (countries like the UK where gun control is strict and the illegal firearm trade is low). It has been proposed that officers train and carry a multitude of ‘gadgets’ and trained in them to give them options. While this is an initiative that I support, it must be examined carefully with realistic human limitation in mind. Striker-fire polymer safe-action based handguns (for the sake of simplicity, gun with no manual safety), have become remarkably popular throughout the world of law enforcement (and in some cases military). Consider in any high stress emergency situation i.e. combat, your ability to use fine motor skills goes from ten to two in a split second, your ability to think and judge are diminished in some way no matter how much training you go through (although training assists with retaining some). Enter these fairly new handguns, which have gained popularity because they are simple to operate. Once loaded and cocked, just draw and fire, no additional frills (this however makes the weapon less safe to operate if handled carelessly). I say the above to make a point, too many options are not necessarily a good thing. Even with training it is easy to become confused in high-stress situations. You may reach for one tool, and your mind is on the possibility of another, which slows down your already strained thought pattern. One’s fate is usually calculated in the millisecond.

There is much to consider in going forward with the use of lethal and less-than-lethal force, however I hope that the above article has been helpful to the public in understanding the response of police officers in the face of a lethal threat.

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Paul-Daniel Nahous BS, CHS-I, ATO
Law Enforcement Consultant
Combat Specialist

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Criminology is in essence the study of Crime. It is best studied like detective work, where you take instances of crime and “work backwards,” from the crime to the person. In Trinidad and Tobago however we take everything at front face value and it leads us to conclusions that are often misleading. We have established that the majority of crime comes from poverty stricken areas, but does that mean that poverty is a cause of crime? Note that domestic violence, assault, rape and criminal damage etc, does occur among the affluent in TnT as well, but is less reported and often covered.

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We see poverty and we see crime, however ‘correlation does not necessarily mean causation.’ Studies conducted by various agencies time and time again show this. For the sake of “face value,” which can be distracting, it can also hold hints when looked it correctly. When you see the usual gang members out and about, look at their attire. While tacky at best, the expensive ‘gear’ they wear hints at the nature of most crime, that being ‘Greed over Need.’ Look for another example of the phenomenon in Trinidad of ‘Rape by Vaps,’ where it is a trend now for criminals to just rape a woman after a robbery, especially a home invasion. Many times this is not pre-planned (although in some cases it may be), but what causes this malice? Look further at cases of elderly persons who can barely walk being beaten mercilessly after a robbery. These actions are rooted in a much deeper social issue, which in itself is the cause of crime.

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The major Criminal element in Trinidad and Tobago is one breed through generations of destructive social engineering, which in turn consolidated the gang culture of select impoverished areas. The mentality of ruthlessness and vile actions spread like an epidemic in the absence of order and decency. With the absence of a father figure, in a similar way a youth from the ghetto would find a sense of belonging in a criminal gang robbing people, one from privilege may find himself causing reckless endangerment or even criminal damage in his/her parent’s prado. In those select impoverished areas it has reached the stage of almost being natural selection where the tough dominate, and only those who can adapt to be like them eventually survive (or even strive). Those who do not conform to this are usually always in the crossfire (sometimes literally), or are forced to move out from the area they reside in. This leads us to the pertinent questions “How do we fix this, what do we do?”

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While poverty still does not equate to crime, it is important to provide the hope of a better living while addressing the social issues at hand. That being said however we have been at a stage for a long time where it is necessary to execute harsh crime control methods in lieu of general order around the country. I.e. the push against the criminal element for the time cannot be looking at these gang members as lost little boys, but rather the hardened end product of a failed culture and society. In short, trying to ‘save’ those who are already lost is far secondary to eradication of those who violently resist and pose a threat to the safety and security of our Nations’s People. Social initiatives are paramount in preventing the next generation of gangsters from filling in the ranks that would be disposed of, and that does start alongside aggressive crime policy.

It is with this that I hold hope that general public will be better educated on matters of Crime, that the current Government will do what is needed, and Governments following will work forward to break the cycle and ensure a safer and more progressive Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
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Paul-Daniel Nahous BS, CHS-I, ATO
Law Enforcement Consultant
Combat Specialist