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Cops, soldiers out in full force today
More than 1,000 police officers and 300 soldiers will be on duty to provide a safe and secure Carnival during the next two days, with the official street party set to start this morning with J’Ouvert celebrations. Members of the protective services will be out in full force today from 1 am, well before J’Ouvert starts at 4 am, until the Ash Wednesday cool down parties.
Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj said yesterday approximately 300 soldiers (a full company) will provide joint security with the Police Service to ensure that masqueraders, who will be out in their thousands for the two days of revelry, can party in safety. “For the past number of years we have been given a joint opportunity with police,” he said.
“We normally increase the number of personnel and all the areas have a joint military and police presence for security arrangements...We provide military support at all the Carnival centres.” Maharaj said the military essentially maintains two groups of people during joint operations—officers who are on patrol, and quick reaction teams who will be at military installations when and if they are required.
“Given the nature of the current situation, we have reason to include the Air Guard, Coast Guard, the army and Police Service,” he said. Asked if citizens should be concerned about their safety, he said: “Absolutely not.” Alternate Gold Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Donald Denoon said several stakeholders were consulted before the celebrations and they were happy with the manpower they had.
“We would be out in all our numbers to provide safety and security,” Denoon said. “We observed from prior Carnival events that there was nothing major that happened because of the way we policed them. We trust over the next few days we will see the continued success we have been having in the pre-Carnival season.” He said lawmen from the Homicide Bureau, Anti-Corruption, Special Branch and other branches will pick up the slack by patrolling communities and downtown Port-of-Spain.
Police officers who were on vacation or other extended leave were recalled to ensure manpower was increased. Coast Guard public affairs officer, Lt Commander Kirk Jean-Baptiste, said yesterday that people at the beaches should also be careful. “I would expect people who will not be taking part in Carnival activities and going to the beach to be safe and not drink and go into the water, and watch their children,” e said.Jean-Baptiste said citizens should also pay attention to lifeguards on duty.
“Be mindful where your children are...I am encouraging people to have responsible fun, which is my key words,” he added. He said apart from bathers, other people who are going out to sea should wear life jackets. “People who are going to the beach and venture out on boats should wear life jackets and be careful while operating their craft in the water,” he said.
“People going to the beach need to be mindful of their surroundings where they park.” “I want everybody to have a safe Carnival whether you play Carnival (mas), go to the beach or stay with family.” Members of the Coast Guard will also be doing maritime patrols with officers from Customs and Excise.
Senior Supt David Abraham, of the Northern Division, the largest division in the country, said all areas will be patrolled by the police. He said the main Carnival areas in the division were Arima, Arouca, Tunapuna, in Maracas/St Joseph, San Raphael, Cumuto and other remote areas. “Our officers are on a 24-hour alert...Officers were called off vacation leave and we will have heightened police activities in communities,” he said.