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Police Service gets SAUTT’s air fleet
The air fleet of the Special Anti-crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT), has been absorbed into the Police Service.
The fleet comprises four helicopters and an airship, also known as the blimp, which has been under review by Cabinet. At a media briefing at the Police Training Academy, St James, yesterday Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs said enlisting the services of SAUTT’s Air Support Unit was a “co-operation” between the Police Service and SAUTT.
He maintained there was no change in the organisational structure of either the Police Service or SAUTT “at this point.” He added: “What makes it different is that we are actually going to use the fleet as patrol vehicles. They become part of our overall patrol function. “They will be scheduled to fly, to listen to calls, to answer calls for service so they will be operating just as a car on the ground will be in a patrol setting,” Gibbs explained.
Previously, he said, resources from SAUTT were used by the Police Service but not on a 24-hour basis.
Gibbs said the air assets were crucial to ground activities of the Police Service in light of the “volume and nature of serious criminal activity that seems to be taking over this society.”
All divisions and units of the Police Service would have access to the Air Support Unit, he said. According to Gibbs, by combining the unit and current policing resources, the Police Service will improve its response ability and assist in:
• Robberies in progress where vehicles are used as a getaway;
• anti-kidnapping matters;
• high speed vehicle pursuits; and,
• search and rescue operations.
Gibbs said: “The helicopters will be working in tandem in all aspects of investigations where their assistance will be vital in the apprehension of persons involved in our crime suppression and mobile patrol efforts. “Air support is just one part of our collaborative effort to suppress crime and criminal activities, thereby providing a safe haven to citizens.” He said a helicopter, normally described as a “force multiplier”, is equivalent to “20 ground resources for containment and research activities.”
He added: “Helicopters will respond to calls for service from the TTPS Command Centre as they provide air support to maintain coverage of a crime scene and provide information to ground resource and assist in the location of suspects through the use of high tech equipment.” Gibbs, who pointed out that criminal activity has “evolved,” assured: “So too shall the Police Service. The TTPS is committed to fighting the scourge of crime in our country. Bit by bit, step by step we will take our country back.”
He urged law enforcement officials to seek out always innovative mechanisms to reduce crime. During a drill exercise put on by SAUTT, members, dressed in tactical uniform, skilfully slid down a rope from a helicopter which hovered several feet above the ground. The highlight, however, was when “Civil”, a canine member of SAUTT, also outfitted in a bullet-proof vest, was lowered from the helicopter and instinctively crouched near one of the armed lawmen.
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