This year’s murder toll has now surpassed last year’s figure and is expected to continue its trend after another bloody weekend.
As the reign of the Merry Monarch takes centre stage from 4 am today, continuing into tomorrow, National Security Minister Gary Griffith says the country has been transformed into a “blue light district” with hundreds of police officers on the roads. In a telephone interview yesterday, Griffith expressed confidence that 2014 could be the safest Carnival ever.
“It’s not that we have transformed the country into a police state or anything like that. Every few minutes there are about three to four police vehicles passing on the highways and on the roads throughout the country. “That in itself is a deterrent which has reduced the perception of crime,” Griffith said. He said some 3,800 police officers and 1,800 members of the Defence Force had been deployed across T&T for the festivities.
“I can assure that the entire country will be on a lockdown, not only in Port-of-Spain but other areas where Carnival is taking place. We have specific operational plans in place. It is a mammoth operation and officers will be on duty until stand down,” Griffith added. He also urged citizens to play their part in the fight against crime by relaying information to the police.
In giving an example, Griffith said on Saturday there was a massive traffic pile-up along the western peninsula because a bus broke down. Within minutes, however, police were on the scene after receiving a report. He said the National Operations Centre (NOC) was working closely with the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and other Carnival bodies in the co-ordination of information as quickly as possible.
He also warned that officers would be placed at strategic locations and anyone wanting to enter the city with weapons or narcotics would be stopped, searched and arrested. “The searches would be sporadic and there would be live feed from the helicopters to the NOC. Obviously we cannot reveal where the officers would be placed, but those entering Port-of-Spain whether travelling [in a vhicle for hire] or driving should be warned of the road blocks and the sporadic searches,” Griffith said.
He said he would also be in various locations throughout the country today and tomorrow, including Port-of-Spain, Arima, Chaguanas, San Fernando and Tobago.
Carnival Safety tips
When attending parties and other activities you are reminded that you should:
• Wear minimal jewelry
• Travel in groups to and from activities
• Not carry around or display large amounts of money
• Not have wallets and change purses visible
• Not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended
• Prearrange transport and designate an alcohol-free driver.
Parents and guardians are reminded that their children should:
• All wear identification cards bearing their name, name of parent/guardian, address and telephone number.
• Not be left unsupervised at home
• Not be left in the charge of strangers
• Not use public conveniences unless an adult accompanies them
• Not accept food or drink from strangers
• Not be taken to fetes and other adult shows.
When leaving households you are reminded that you should:
• Ensure that you secure your premises
• Secure all ladders and other implements in a locked room
• Not leave keys in mailboxes or under door mats
• Notify the police if you are going to be away for long periods
• Have a friend or relative check the household to remove newspapers and other deliveries
• Teach your children to lock the doors when they enter
• Ensure that the property is illuminated at night
• Be observant when returning home, especially at night.
Remember it is an offence to:
• Go through a red light even at nights
• Travel in open trays of pick up vans and trucks.