Police confiscating camouflage gear
Front Page
October 26, 2007

Police confiscating camouflage gear

Shelves and countertops of several prominent business houses around Kingstown were wiped clean of all camouflage items during a joint operation between the customs department and local police on Monday.{{more}}

T-shirts, hats, bags, belts, pants, shoes were just some of the items confiscated during the massive haul, which police told Searchlight was carried out as a result of reports of persons dressed in camouflage apparel impersonating police officers.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Lenroy Brewster told Searchlight that the impersonation of the police is a developing trend. “We cannot have persons wearing military style uniforms which resemble that of the police,” Brewster said.

Under this country’s import and export regulations of 1992, no one is allowed to import any “military style camouflage material or uniform except imported for use by police or military personnel.”

And, under the criminal code, anyone found guilty of wearing any uniform of the armed police force of any Commonwealth country, or any clothing having the appearance or intended to have the appearance of such uniform, is guilty of an offence and liable to six months imprisonment.

Deputy Comptroller of Customs Albert Francis told Searchlight that there seem to be loopholes through which persons are smuggling the camouflage wear into the country. He said that it is a fact that people are finding ways to conceal the items, and more stringent measures are being put in place to deal with the problem. Francis said that he is aware that all barrels and containers coming through customs are not thoroughly checked by officials, and it is an area that needs tightening.

However, some business owners expressed their dissatisfaction with the way in which the seizure was carried out by the authorities. One business owner, who operates in the Kingstown Vegetable Market, told SEARCHLIGHT that he lost goods valued at over $3,000. The man, who did not want to be identified, said “I feel real bad because I lost a lot and I am here trying to make an honest living.” Although he is against the wearing of camouflage, he is of the opinion that colours such as blue and yellow camouflage should not be taken away, since police do not wear them.

Another business owner said that he supports the authorities for confiscating the items, since people are taking advantage of them. “It is right for them to take them because anyone can pose as an officer with the attire.” He encouraged businesses that have not been caught to desist from the practice and abide by the law.

ACP Brewster said that it is not the first time that camouflage clothes have been confiscated, and anyone or any business found in possession of these items will be dealt with by the law.

Just last month, on September 22, Ricardo Kelly of Clare Valley was killed when two men, reportedly dressed in camouflage attire similar to that worn by the Special Services Unit (SSU), entered a shop and shot him in the head.