The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has no authority to operate as a “referee” when it comes to any truce among criminals.
This was the word from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday, as he gave his position on dealing with gangs in this country.
Speaking during a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Rowley said the Government has not granted the TTPS any sort of permission to arrange any peace deal with gangs.
Rowley said, “When you’re talking about, ‘Oh this gang, and that gang negotiate a peace treaty with the police blowing whistle as a referee’, that is not on.”
Rowley was responding to a Trinidad Express article which reported that a peace agreement had been reached between two notorious gangs affiliated with a number of recent killings in Port-of-Spain. The truce was reportedly facilitated by the police. The TTPS has since denied this ever happened.
According to the Prime Minister, the stance of the Government is quite clear when it comes to gangs.
“Let me make my position very clear, on the position of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the position of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, gang activity is criminal conduct. As a matter of fact, it is criminal conduct that spawns the identification of gang, gang leader, gang warfare, gang peace or gang war. The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago understands this and has allotted significant amount of Parliament effort to codify the law to allow the law enforcement in Trinidad and Tobago to respond to criminal conduct identified as gang activity. I refer here specifically to the anti-gang laws.”
He added that while police officers have the authority to speak with all citizens, negotiating with criminals is off-limits.
“And notwithstanding the fact that the police is required to speak to every citizen in this country if the police sees it fit. Whether you’re an abusing husband, a delinquent parent under the truancy act or otherwise, the police will speak to you and will be authorised to speak to you. But what the police is not going to be authorised to do is to negotiate any abridgement of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago as it applies to any aspect of criminal conduct,” Rowley explained.
He also cautioned that a certain level of interaction with criminals could send the wrong message and lead to persons getting more “rank”.
“You have to be very careful that in dealing with them, you don’t send the message that they have rank, and they get more rank because they could talk to you,” he said.
Showroom vehicles for cops, soldiers
As it pertains to fighting crime, the Prime Minister also revealed that the Cabinet has approved 50 new vehicles to be used by the TTPS and Defence Force.
Rowley said these vehicles will all be brand new.
He said for months, the TTPS has been trying to buy vehicles through the normal bureaucratic process but that has been very slow.
Rowley said: “We need to have the soldiers and the police out there immediately. The Cabinet took the position, if it is vehicles they don’t have, go in the showroom and see what is there. We’ve done that. In the next week or two, you should see another 50 vehicles to ensure that when the soldiers want to go out with the police that there is no impediment of no vehicle. So that’s what we do. That’s the kind of thing we do. We support as far as we are able to ensure that they are resourced to respond.”