CoP says protests were orchestrated by gangs, boasts of 72 arrests
The police service has arrested 72 people across the capital amid civil unrest over the recent police shooting that left three people dead.
The victims in that incident were 27-year-old Israel Clinton, 44-year-old Noel Diamond and 43-year-old Joel Jacob. The men were killed by police on Saturday after reports claimed they were wanted for the murder of PC Allen Moseley who was gunned down in Morvant earlier that day.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith noted that a woman was killed in the demonstrations, stating that investigations are underway into her cause of death.
He went on to assert that the protests weren't as a result of anger over police brutality but were funded by criminal elements.
"Intelligence has revealed that this was an orchestrated plan that was led by several gang members, whereby the intention was to use the shooting of the three young men a few days ago, as a front to cover the planned plot to shut down the country."
"This was a well-orchestrated plot by certain gang leaders in the hope to get national support, when they commenced their plan to cause mayhem, fear, and destruction throughout the country."
The top cop reiterated his belief that any police officer charged for a violent crime should be removed from the Service. However, he condemned protesters for breaking the law. He added that the TTPS was well prepared for the unrest.
"The plan to shut down the country involved setting fire to certain places, from along the Beetham to Port of Spain, and when Police Officers arrived, they would be fired upon. The plan was to kill police officers and to shoot up police stations. These same criminal elements used the opportunity yesterday and again this morning, to rob law-abiding citizens."
"It was to continue with wild random shots to be fired throughout the country to cause further havoc. This included shots being fired at the Office of the Attorney General, which was actually done."
Griffith also confirmed that police were shot at in different parts of the city.
"The TTPS is in full control. With the immediate and strong assistance of the SSA, TTDF, Fire Services, and the National Operation Fusion Centre (NOFC), we were able to quell any disturbance within minutes of the commencement of the plan."
The Police Commissioner said he coordinated the operational response at the Command Centre along with Deputy Commissioners of Police Mc Donald Jacob and Jayson Forde.
The Command Centre reportedly provided real-time information of incidents within seconds of the commencement via reports from the Operational and Intelligence Units, as well as real-time video footage from the CCTV system and cameras on the Emergency Response Patrol (ERP) vehicles.
Operational units from the North Eastern and Western Divisions, as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force, Multi-Operational Police Section (MOPS), Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB), Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and the Mobile Extraction Prisoner vehicle were deployed. The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) and Fire Services were also immediately at hand to provide tactical support, remove debris and extinguish fires.
The operation continues as the COP has directed that the Alert State for the TTPS remains at red. This means the nation would be under heavy police surveillance for the next 48 hours.
Law enforcement would also be positioned at strategic locations, both overt and covert. More arrests are also expected.
"CCTV footage at every site where fires were started and roads blocked, show clearly the faces of the perpetrators, some known to the police, and would be used to find them and have them arrested."
"It is hoped that this incident and plot by a few, to destabilize our great nation, clearly shows who the real enemy of the State is, and it is definitely not the dedicated men and women of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service."
Meanwhile, Griffith assured that the police killing of the three men in Morvant is being investigated by the TTPS and Police Complaints Authority. He further noted the findings would be made public.