The Trinidad Guardian -Online Edition Ver 2.0
The Flying Squad, the unit within the Police Service which brought fear to the lives of criminals for 16 years, is back.
A reunion is being held at 5 pm today at the Police Service Mess at Long Circular Road, St James. But the members are coming together to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Police as to how he should deal with the criminals and the crime situation.
Mervyn Cordner, who retired as an inspector, said during an interview yesterday that he had been looking at the crime situation in the country for sometime.
Based in Orlando, Florida, Cordner decided to get in touch with his former colleagues, including attorney Thomas Cunningham and Rudolph Leach.
“I think about 40 of my colleagues will be there on Wednesday,” Cordner said.
He said invitations were sent out to acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert and Deputy Commissioner Gilbert Reyes, a former Flying Squad member, but he could not say if they would attend.
“But we will let the Commissioner know what we decide,” Cordner said.
He confirmed that some of his former colleagues flew in from abroad to attend the reunion.
As one of the key members of the squad which was led by the late Commissioner of Police, Randolph Burroughs, Cordner said it hurt him and other colleagues to see the state of T&T and the dramatic increase in murders each year.
“We are tired of what is happening, and based on what we achieved in the past, I think we can offer some solutions to the present Commissioner,” Cordner said.
“We have experienced personnel who came out of that squad, some went on to become executive members in the Police Service.”
He pointed out that the Flying Squad was formed in 1970 after a number of soldiers staged a mutiny. He said it was the brainchild of late prime minister Dr Eric Williams to form the Flying Squad to look at the national interest.
He said the squad got the real test in 1973 when the National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) threatened to take control of the country by unlawful means.
According to Cordner, “that was where the Flying Squad was really tested...We managed to bring the situation under control under the supervision of Mr Burroughs.”
The retired officer said the squad was disbanded in 1986 after Burroughs was arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder, and conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
He said the release of the Scott Drug Report also contributed to the Flying Squad being disbanded.
As a result, several members of the squad, who were suspended as a result of the report, retired or resigned from the Police Service after the suspensions were lifted.
“They were not happy with what happened and they left...Now, this is their country and they are very concerned at what is happening,” Cordner said.
“I think we have a great contribution to make, first to tackle gang warfare, and to assist in reducing the number of murders in the country...My colleagues are very upbeat about the reunion.”
Today’s meeting comes days after Reyes told the media that the Police Service had asked the Los Angeles Police Department to assist in combating gang violence.