Richards, who is serving his second term as POA president, confirmed to Newsday yesterday that he has been told that a suspension letter is waiting for him at the Prison’s Administration Building, Phillip Street, Port-of-Spain and he intends to collect that letter today.

Based on the completion of a police investigation, as well as an internal Prison Service investigation, into the break-in, a recommendation was made to the Prison Service Commission to suspend Richards.

The service weapon belonging to Richards was never recovered.

Neither was the vault containing a number of other valuables.

Efforts to reach Commissioner of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, Sterling Stewart, proved futile.

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However, members of the POA executive told Newsday they would be holding an emergency meeting today to discuss the impending suspension of their president and added that they will be supporting him “all the way through.” The POA president declared, “I did nothing wrong.

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A crime was committed against me and now I am being thrown into the dog house because of statements I have made on behalf of my membership but, I want to make it clear that I will not be stepping down and if they feel that this thing will bring Ceron Richards down, I have news for them — I am going nowhere.

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Only my (POA) membership can decide my fate.” Richards also told Newsday several senior officers had lost their firearms but were never suspended.

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He therefore questioned why he was being suspended.

Richards reiterated his belief that the POA is under attack and called on all executive members of the prison, police and fire officers’ unions to come together to discuss what he believes is an open attack against the POA’s executive.

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Contacted yesterday, Seales said, “I find it curious that POA President, Ceron Richards, who was a victim of crime, could be placed on suspension.

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I am calling on other executive members of the other protective services associations to come together and launch an investigation into this matter.” Seales questioned if President of the Fire Service Association (FSA), Leo Ramkissoon, would be next and questioned whether recent suspensions and the hauling to court of another executive member of the PSWA could be linked to this latest incident.

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Richards said he has been making some serious statements which, he believes, may have contributed to the suspension letter.

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“I felt that I was being hunted down but this will not be debar me from forging ahead and continuing to represent the hundreds of prison officers.” Richards also told Newsday that a recent decision to sue the State and hire a top attorney may have also contributed to the decision to suspend him.

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“I knew this was coming because I was told that I was being too ‘forward’ in my statements and this has led to me being thrown into the ‘dog house’.” Earlier this year, Richards and members of his executive clamoured for improved safety and security of prison officers, following the murders of some of their colleagues.

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The POA also met with Attorney General (AG) Faris Al-Rawi during a stakeholders meeting at City Hall, Port-of-Spain in April, at which Richards outlined at least ten changes which needed to be put in place in the Prison Service.

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These included proclamation of the Electronic Monitoring Act so that bail conditions could be implemented to ease the prison population, particularly at the Remand Yard which accounts for 65 percent of the 4000-plus prison population

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