National Security Minister Brig (ret) John Sandy was the one who recommended the implementation of a state of emergency to the Prime Minister based on intelligence received. Sandy revealed this yesterday as the state of emergency rolled past its ninth day with the number of detainees at 820 up to yesterday.
Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs who gave this figure said among the 820, 298 persons were held for gang related activity. Sandy, Gibbs and other State officials updated the media on the state of emergency operations following a meeting of the National Security Council at the Prime Minister's office yesterday. The PM heads the council.
On Sunday, Sandy had said he was not satisfied with the 15 guns so far netted in the exercise. However, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan had said that day he was satisfied with the 1,000 rounds of ammunition obtained. Ramlogan said the ammunition was more significant since criminals often shared weapons. At yesterday's daily media briefing, Sandy's opening statements revealed he was the one who had recommended the state of emergency which he and Ramlogan both defended. Sandy said: "Based on the information and intelligence at our disposal, I as Minister of National Security went to the Prime Minister and recommended that we at......(pause) least consider the implementation of a state of emergency." Sandy added, "This was discussed at National Security Council and Cabinet level. If we were to make only two arrests and acquire only one firearm, the success of this initiative has nothing to do with that, but the fact that the decision that we took, has averted a major crisis in T&T."
"I maintain, had we not gone this route and what we saw was about to happen, had happened, then every person would have said we were an irresponsible government." Sandy said seizures and arrests "will in no way determine the success or failure" of the state of emergency. Ramlogan said he had asked the Police Service to indicate the total number of guns and ammunition seized, not only in the state of emergency. Ramlogan said, "For the year prior to the state of emergency, 231 firearms were seized and 4,356 rounds of ammunition were seized also-add that to the 15 guns seized in the state of emergency and 1,000 rounds of ammunition seized now and you'll see we've made a significant dent for this year and taken a lot of guns off the street." Ramlogan added, "There've been some major breakthroughs and operations thus far have been an unqualified success."
"Of course, there's always room for improvement. We're never going to be satisfied until violent crime is eradicated." Ramlogan said that in Jamaica the arrest of gang leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke last year had seen crime drop 32 per cent there. He said it showed how the arrest of one gang leader could affect the overall crime rate. Asked how T&T can measure the state of emergency success if the reasons for it were not fully known, Sandy said he could not disclose such information since it was classified.
Asked why the state of emergency was implemented if the state had been successful in taking 231 guns off the street prior to the emergency Ramlogan said: "I believe that the Minister of National Security who advised that we consider this (SOE) as an option in response to what was then an imminent, clear and present threat and danger to our society, would be the one to answer that."
Maintaining that sensitive information could not be disclosed Ramlogan said, "If prior to the July 1990 insurrection pre-emptive action had been taken on the information that did reach the security services, it would have been averted but they would not have been able to share that with the media." Ramlogan added, "What we can say is that the pre-emptive action taken (now) has prevented a crisis in our society." Ramlogan said it would be a breach of protocol to disclose classified information and the Government would have been criticised if it had disclosed this. Ramlogan said the President's statement on the reasons for the state of emergency was the Government's official position. He said there was no merit in claims the state of emergency was geared toward stifling labour protests.
Ramlogan said he felt the state of emergency was having a significant impact since there had been no gang-related violence or murder in T&T since it was implemented. "This may be the first time in so many years that T&T has gone for an entire week without a homicide of that nature... that's worthy of note," Ramlogan added. Sandy also responded to concerns about putting gang leaders with others in jail and the potential for problems and reprisals if and when those persons get out of jail. Sandy said, " It's a concern. This morning it was discussed with the Commissioner of Prisons. Every effort is being taken to ensure proper prison administration is being entertained with that aspect." Ramlogan said Government was working with religious groups and in implementing sporting initiatives to give youths opportunities following the SOE.
In the past 24 hours since Sunday:
• 31 more arrested;
• 5 on gang related matters;
• 6 drug related;
• 1 curfew breach;
• 16 serious offences;
• 2 outstanding warrants;
• Army operations in Buccoo, Tobago;
• Roadblocks at Glencoe, Pt Fortin netting 36;
• Seizure of cutlasses, batons;
• Army seizures of marijuana seedlings;
• 9 arrested in Maracas St Joseph;
• 3 arrested for weed in Toco.