CoP warns: TTPS will enforce law during 'stay at home' period
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith is warning citizens that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) will be enforcing the law from Sunday midnight, when all non-essential activities and services will be prohibited until April 15.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the measure, as Government moves to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.
The Ministry of Health issued a legal notice on Friday, in which it outlined a comprehensive list of essential services and activities.
In a statement on Friday, Commissioner Griffith sought to assure citizens that
the TTPS will be enforcing the law as written and will be acting within the confines of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.
He said effective midnight on Sunday, 85 ERP patrols, ably assisted by 100 motorcycles, as well as joint patrols with the Defence Force will be operating 24/7 to ensure citizens adhere to the regulations.
"As Commissioner of Police, I give the assurance to the public that our officers will be acting professionally and will be interacting with the public in a courteous manner.
I need to point out however, that we are willing to do all that’s necessary to ensure the safety and security of the majority of citizens and as such will not tolerate persons flouting the regulations."
Griffith also responded to concerns about an abuse of power during the 'stay at home' period.
He noted that the country is not under a State of Emergency (SoE), and as such the TTPS remains the only civil law enforcement authority in the country.
"While our brothers and sisters who are members of the Defence Force shall be assisting the Police Service, it is only the TTPS that possesses, at this time, the power to stop, question or arrest persons as prescribed by law."
He added that the officers of the TTPS only will be the ones if necessary to arrest and charge any citizen for any unlawful acts during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond once a State of Emergency is not invoked.
However, he said the TTPS will always, as its first course of action, attempt to use moral suasion and reason with members of the public to ensure compliance.
This as, he urged citizens to comply with the amendments made to the Public Health Ordinance.
"It is not the preference of the TTPS to go about arresting persons, since placing scores of arrestees in confined spaces actually serves as a counter to the very much stated objective of social distancing."
The CoP also advised that essential workers require no passes to traverse the roads, but should be prepared to answer and justify their activity if questioned.
Meanwhile, Griffith added that despite repeated calls for citizens to observe social distancing, there are some who are determined to operate 'selfishly' and create potential problems for other persons.
He cautioned against some of the bars and gambling houses that are still operating, and against some of the restaurants that
still have in-house dining.