August 10, 2007

Immigration Chief wants security agents

Civilian immigration officers must see themselves as border control agents – not workers who simply stamp passports and smile when persons come into the country.

Chief Immigration Officer, Randolph Rogers admitted to SEARCHLIGHT in a recent interview that this is an area that he is concerned about, and will make sure that training and development programmes are in place to guard against this.{{more}}

After the November 1st, 2006, administrative separation of the immigration department from the police force, nine civilian immigration officers were taken aboard, and Rogers is determined to instill a “security agent” mentality in them.

“The immigration officers before were police officers so they still see themselves as security agents, so we must make sure that the new officers coming in don’t just see themselves as stamping passports, we have a crucial role to play in national security,” Rogers said.

Rogers said that in these modern times of increased criminal activity, immigration officers can’t drop their guard. He noted that as tourism development takes place and wealth comes, criminal activity such as drug trafficking and prostitution would seek to grab a foothold in the country.

“We have to make sure that our officers, including the new ones who have not been militarily trained, are keen observers; profiling persons, noticing nervousness, fidgeting and so on,” Rogers said.

“We have been trying to change the mindset of the new officers,” Rogers said.

He said that over the next few years, many training and development programmes would be put in place to help in this regard.

“Our officers must be alert in detecting potential threats, and lawbreakers, and we continue to work closely with the police,”’ Rogers said.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the pool of militarily trained personnel in the immigration department is set to become smaller in the not so distant future.

A number of police officers who were attached to immigration have opted to return to the police now that the immigration department has been demilitarized.

Once they return to the constabulary, more civilians would be recruited into the department.

The immigration department currently has 40 officers. (KJ)