1,000 officers in nationwide raids

Two days of “in­tense” polic­ing saw 138 peo­ple ar­rest­ed by po­lice over the week­end.

In the ex­er­cise which start­ed on Fri­day at 6 am, which saw 22 drug blocks be­ing searched, eight guns, as well as a va­ri­ety of am­mu­ni­tion, were seized.

Po­lice said 13 pro­hib­it­ed im­mi­grants were al­so de­tained and quan­ti­ties of drugs were al­so seized as well as two stolen ve­hi­cles re­cov­ered, a state­ment from the Po­lice Ser­vice said.

The ex­er­cise, the first roll of out of Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith’s Op­er­a­tion Strike Back for 2019 start­ed just four days af­ter the Com­mis­sion­er was hos­pi­talised and or­dered to rest.

He spear­head­ed the op­er­a­tion which took place in all nine polic­ing di­vi­sions across the coun­try.

He said the coun­try re­quired such an ex­er­cise.

“There were a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things we can look at to show the ben­e­fit of this op­er­a­tion over the last 48 hours. It showed high vis­i­bil­i­ty, it was a pow­er­ful de­ter­rent and we ba­si­cal­ly lock down the coun­try,” said Com­mis­sion­er Grif­fith while ad­dress­ing mem­bers of the me­dia short­ly af­ter 6 am at the St James Po­lice Bar­racks on Sun­day.

He spoke while sur­round­ed by se­nior of­fi­cers of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice in­clud­ing As­sis­tant Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice (Crime) Jayson Forde, ACP (South) Joanne Archie, Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent (Port-of-Spain) Floris Hodge-Grif­fith, Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Daniel of the North­ern Di­vi­sion and Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Pe­ter Dom­inque of the West­ern Di­vi­sion.

Grif­fith said over 1,000 of­fi­cers took part in the ex­er­cise.

The Com­mis­sion­er said this was a nec­es­sary state­ment to the crim­i­nal el­e­ment of the coun­try, while al­so point­ing out the mur­der toll, which had usu­al­ly been high in re­cent years dur­ing Jan­u­ary, was marked­ly low­er so far.

There were 60 mur­ders com­mit­ted in Jan­u­ary last year, the blood­i­est month in the na­tion’s his­to­ry.

“I think it was very im­por­tant that this week­end we keep it locked, you know many times peo­ple look at sta­tis­tics and they look at homi­cides as a cat­a­lyst to­wards crime in the coun­try,” said Grif­fith.

“Look­ing at the first 12 days of the year from 2018 to 2019 there was a com­par­i­son of 25 or 26 homi­cides last year in com­par­i­son to 11 this year. So we are go­ing at over 70 per cent plus in a re­duc­tion of homi­cides so far this year. And there is a turn­around, we are turn­ing it back.”

The Com­mis­sion­er al­so took a thin­ly veiled jab at Fix­in T&T’s Kirk Wait­he and oth­er crit­ics.

“Again many peo­ple will con­tin­ue to crit­i­cise us but what we have to do is stay strong fo­cus and know ex­act­ly what our ob­jec­tive is. The arm­chair wan­na be law ex­perts, let them stay in their arm­chairs, let them feel they could fix T&T by go­ing on a com­put­er and speak. We in­tend to fix Trinidad and To­ba­go by do­ing what it is we did over the last 48 hours,” said Grif­fith.

“We did not sleep for the whole night, do­ing what was re­quired to en­sure the most fun­da­men­tal rights of cit­i­zens would be ad­hered to, that is safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty.”

There were 1,300 stop and search ex­er­cis­es con­duct­ed over the week­end, which saw tick­ets is­sued for 230 dri­vers for traf­fic of­fences.

How­ev­er, de­spite this num­ber, the Com­mis­sion­er no­ticed a drop in Dri­ving Un­der the In­flu­ence ar­rests dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

“We have seen is a re­duc­tion in per­sons ac­tu­al­ly be­ing ap­pre­hend­ed for those of­fences which mean al­so that cit­i­zens are al­so start­ing to ad­here to their own re­spon­si­bil­i­ty,” said Grif­fith.

He once again urged the pub­lic to as­sist the po­lice with in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty.

- by Peter Christopher

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