A police officer is at home nursing injuries he sustained when he fell from the pan of a police pickup truck around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.
The incident occurred near the bus stop where the coconut vendor plies his trade past Kentucky Fried Chicken in Arnos Vale — travelling towards Kingstown.
Michael Goodluck, the physician who treated the officer, told iWitness News that the incident could have been avoided had police heeded to his pleas to cease the practice.
He said that he has repeatedly spoken to senior members of the police force, asking them not to allow police officers to ride in the pans of their pick-up trucks.
“I have been, for months and months — I have even mentioned it to senior police officers — [talking] about my concern, as a health care provider, about our men and women in uniform — our police officers — riding in open-back vehicles,” Goodluck, who is District Medical Officer for District 2, told iWitness News on Thursday.
“I think it’s a dangerous practice and it needs to stop. They are exposed to the elements, anybody can attack them: people can fire missiles, gunshots, especially people who are not favourable to the police,” he said.
“Even at high speeds, I see SSU and Black Squad (Rapid Response Unit) and Coast Guard officers riding in the back of vehicles. It’s a dangerous thing and I have been asking senior officers to have this thing addressed.
“And my fears were realised yesterday when a police officer fell off one of the vehicles and sustained injuries.”
Goodluck said that the 25-year-old police officer had multiple abrasions and contusions to his upper limbs and struck his head and his knees and complained of pains to the pelvis.
He said the injuries were “consistent with that sort of fall.
“Because he fell out and he rolled on the ground, but he is a big fella and I think that is what cushioned his fall too. He looks like he probably weighs between 260 and 280 pounds.”
The physician said that the police officer had to be given time off from work.
“I am calling on the authorities before something tragic happens. I know it is just a disaster waiting to happen. We should not have our police officers riding in the back of pick-ups; most of them are the official vehicles of the police.
“They should be riding in vehicles that are well covered and protected… It is a dangerous thing and the Commissioner of Police and the government needs to look into this thing before something rather tragic happens to our men and women in uniform,” Goodluck told iWitness News.
He further said:
“As s district officer, healthcare provider for the area, I would really be aggrieved if something more serious happens — and there is a strong potential for that to be realised.
“I know personally that he is not the first one that fell off. They need to stop this. It is a very ancient practice and they need to stop this. It could be some fatal accident waiting to happen.”
The incident comes one year after two executive members of the Police Welfare Association were brought up on internal disciplinary charges over a WhatsApp conversation about storming the Office of the Prime Minister in an effort to seek redress for a number of issues.
Among these issues was the lack of clarification on whether police officers are insured while riding in the pans of police trucks and aboard Coast Guard vessels.
The proceedings against the officers have since been adjourned without any fixed date for the next hearing.
In addition to police officers, prisoners and persons arrested by police are often transported in the pan of police pick-up trucks.