State of emergency detainees will likely be housed at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, which was started by the PNM administration, but has never been used. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan announced the development yesterday as the number of state of emergency detainees continued to climb on Day Seven of "Operation Disrupt and Dismantle Gangs." Speaking at the daily media briefing at the National Security Ministry in Port-of-Spain, Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs said the total number of people arrested since the seven-day exercise began stood at 684, including 267 on gang-related issues. (See box below) Gibbs said the situation had caused the serious crime rate to drop to "almost nil." He said the one homicide which occurred during the last week was a domestic matter.
The Attorney General said: "We're winning this war on crime...on day seven of the state of emergency, we're moving at the arrest rate of 100-plus per day, despite getting off to a slow start." On the State's capacity to hold those detained and arrested, Ramlogan said the Government had identified sites for detention facilities and was in the process of outfitting them. National Security Minister John Sandy said the sites could hold over 1,000 people and would be secured by police and army forces. Ramlogan said he had asked Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal to see if the Tarouba Stadium could be used to house detainees. Moonilal will report back shortly. Ramlogan said the stadium had also been meant to be a tsunami shelter.
The stadium, which was due to be completed in 2007 in time for the Cricket World Cup held that year in the region, was started by the Manning administration in 2006. Five years later, the stadium, which holds 15,000 people, still has not been commissioned. During a June tour of the facility, Moonilal said the cost had risen from $375 million to $900 million and it would likely cost around $1.1 billion since the stadium would require significant resources to continue the project as it was over-designed. The facility has been at a standstill since 2009. Initial assessment is that the stadium is a "very feasible" choice to house detainees. Several agencies including the army will assist in the final decision. Ramlogan said yesterday: "For those 'visiting' these (detention) facilities, we'll be happy to accommodate you until you change your ways."
National Security Minister John Sandy said local prison officials had assured that there was room at those locations. Ramlogan warned relatives of those involved in crime that security forces would be widening the net to extend to them. "Whether you are a grandma, grandpa, ajee, ajah .. and you know your grandson, son or granddaughter is involved in a life of crime....." Ramlogan said. Ramlogan warned that if people stored items at any part of the home of their relatives, "including the fowl pen," they could be subject to criminal charges. Ramlogan said now was the time for grandparents and other relatives of criminals to submit information and protect themselves against charges. Sandy said new hot lines set up for the public to submit information are: 800-0699 and 800-0700. Ramlogan, however, said curfew breaking was one of the sore points of the emergency since some people were not taking it seriously.
Sandy said people were using poor excuses to break the curfew such as having to "carry money for their mother." So far, 21 people have been arrested for curfew breaking. Ramlogan said he was considering amending the penalty for culprits. He could not say if or when this would change and what will apply. Ramlogan said the state of emergency had restored some social equilibrium to T&T, especially family institutions. Hospital workers were breathing a sigh of relief at the drop in stab wounds and road traffic accidents at casualty departments, he said. "Wives are happy to have their husbands at home. A woman said her two sons were spending dinner time at home. Families are eating together. This state of emergency has had a lot of positives," Ramlogan added.