Tobago Police have started an investigation into an event that took place at No Man’s Land on Sunday night for possible breaches of the Public Health Regulations.
But while the investigation is active, police officers who tried to shut down the event while it was taking place found themselves stranded as they had no boats to take them out.
In an interview with Guardian Media on Monday, Senior Supt Junior Benjamin said he learnt of the event while it was still going on after videos were shared with him.
In several videos that have been shared widely on social media, partygoers can be seen wining in and out of the water, some of them on boats bracketing the shoreline, as music played loudly from another vessel.
“I saw some footage and immediately I sent this out to the officers to find out if this was taking place. Immediately, I contacted the Coast Guard as well and we decided that we are trying to go via land to see if we could diffuse the situation.However, to get to that location, we were told it is No Man’s Land, we encountered some difficulty with the terrain,” Benjamin said.
He said the officers tried to trek to No Man’s Land, which is typically accessed by boat as the only road leading to it is privately owned.
“We encountered some serious problems with the terrain, there was a trench dug there that we could not cross, so the terrain became impassable. The only option we had was to be on the sea and we had no vessels to assist us there so everything had to stop there.”
Benjamin said the officers tried a different tactic— they waited for the partygoers to return to shore to try to interrogate them. But that plan too failed.
“My understanding is that when they saw the lights of the police it was dispersed and the vessels went different places to ensure that persons left and they did not even come in, they used pirogues to come off the boats so everyone was trying to find creative ways to beat the system,” Benjamin said.
However, those who have evaded the police so far are not home free yet. Benjamin said there was still a possibility they could face charges.
“We are looking at the footage to see if we can identify persons of interests or even boats or assets that we can put some linkage to so we can proceed to verify what exactly transpired in this matter.”
He said officers have been working “24/7” over the past few weeks to shut down parties that pop up all around the island.
“Everybody is doing these things but when you stop them at one location, they tend to go to another one. But we are on top of the game and we recognise what is happening and we are going to meet them toe-to-toe because we are going to ensure Tobago remains a place of law and order.”
Benjamin said on Sunday, police also had to break up a large crowd in Roxborough who were having an event. However, he said no charges were laid in that instance.
Benjamin does not want the public to believe they won’t be charged though. He sent out an appeal and a warning to those who may seek to breach the Public Health Regulations in Tobago. “We want to really send out an appeal to these persons that we are law-abiding people, so please if we can stay within the law, the police will come out in its power, in its authority to ensure we stamp out this type of behaviour.”
He said the TTPS Tobago Division has started talks with their Trinidadian counterparts and officials at the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to ensure they are better prepared so an event like Sunday’s does not go on uninterrupted again. He is hoping the TTPS’ Riverine Unit can be utilised in Tobago.
“We have been talking with the Coast Guard as well as seeking to collaborate with the THA because when you have to come from Trinidad, it might take a while, so this is a conversation that has taken before with the Commissioner of Police and I am certain within the near distant future as I continue to collaborate with our ACP, Mr (William) Nurse, that is going to be one of the options we are going to be putting out there to see if the Riverine Unit could come across and assist us even when we have things of this nature,” Benjamin said.