Last update: 11-Dec-2013 10:53 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Some residents not shown warrants in Nelson and Duncan Streets lockdown
Doors were torn off hinges, people were spoken to in a rough manner and young men were carted off to jail cells despite the failure of officers to find any arms or ammunition, residents of Nelson Street complained. The complaints came hours after police locked down parts of Nelson and Duncan Streets to conduct an apartment-to-apartment search exercise early yesterday morning. Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson said that the police were in possession of search warrants for the apartments. But out of five people who spoke to a team from the Trinidad Guardian, only one said she was shown a warrant. The woman said police showed her a piece of paper, which they said was a warrant, before going into her apartment to search. “I don’t mind them doing their work, but you can’t just pick up people children and go. “I didn’t mind them searching. I helped them search because I know I wasn’t in anything. It have a lot of people in here that don’t like what going on and that want to get out of here,” she said.
She said police could fix the problem in the area. “They (the police) could do the right thing you know, and get the guns off the street but people don’t trust them. I don’t trust the police and I don’t trust the media because they write what they want. It’s only because you’re a woman I talk to you.” She pointed to the door of an abandoned school that had been torn off its hinges. Carlton Taylor, a retired police officer was driving his wife to Maraval when he got a call from his neighbour informing him that police had broken down his door and were searching his apartment.
Taylor returned home to find three officers exiting his apartment, his clothing and documents in disarray and several doors broken down. He said he was never shown a warrant and was just told that an exercise was being carried out. He spent the remainder of the day trying to secure his property for fear of bandits breaking in and stealing his furniture and appliances.
As this reporter walked through the apartment compound several people volunteered information anonymously. Another man, Fitzroy Barker, an employee of the Ministry of Works, had his door broken down while he was at the market and did not see or speak to a police officer during the exercise. Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of crime, Glen Hackett, said the police exercise was in response to the upsurge in murders. Hackett said each and every apartment would have been searched by police during the exercise. He said police had arrested people on outstanding warrants as well as people suspected of having committed various offences such as robbery, possession of narcotics and shootings. “We are here to bring a measure of confidence to the law abiding citizens that the police service is willing to act on their behalf when they perceive that they are in jeopardy in terms of lawlessness.”
Hackett said police had not confiscated ammunition at the time of the media interview. He said several people had been taken into custody in relation to the illegal occupation of Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartments. Several sections of the police service were involved in the exercise. Hackett promised that at some point in the future the police would focus on the other areas in Port-of-Spain that were vulnerable to crime as well. While east Port-of-Spain has been deemed a crime hot spot by police, there was a dramatic increase in murders this month, with four people having been killed last weekend and five murders recorded last Wednesday, resulting in statements from several public figures on the issue. Last week Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and members of her Government and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, on separate occasions, walked through the areas in order to interact with residents. This was followed by a meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Friday at which both Persad-Bissessar and Rowley agreed to hold discussion on ways to deal with the escalation of crime in east Port-of-Spain.
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