With a total of 79 police officers testing positive for COVID-19 and 481 others on quarantine, police officers are now saying they are fearful of arresting Venezuelan migrants because of the spread of the virus and the Brazilian variant.
They say they are uncertain of migrants’ COVID-status and do not want to take such a risk at this time.
Last month, the officers of the Southwestern Division appealed to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to provide a suitable venue to house migrants. They said it was unsafe to keep migrants at the Penal, Fyzabad, Santa Flora and Erin Police Stations.
Over 50 police officers from the division have been on quarantine and six from the Penal Police Station tested positive for the virus in April.
At the Cumoto Police Station, a source said two officers had tested positive in April and four others were awaiting test results.
The source said the station was never fumigated and they were told that it cost the T&T Police Service (TTPS) $20,000 to fumigate one station.
The National Training and Maintenance Company (MTS) cleaners have been sanitising the station but this week several people fell ill.
“We have 10 people now in quarantine,” the source added.
Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew yesterday, Insp Ashraf Ali told host Jessie-May Ventour that a total of 79 officers from the TTPS have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in quarantine.
Ali also said there were 481 officers in quarantine, along with 14 TTPS civilian staff.
Despite the strain on manpower, Insp Ali said the TTPS was committed to fulfilling its obligations. He said law enforcement officers were frustrated with delinquent members of the public who continue to flout the COVID-19 protocols.
While the police continue to enforce the law, Ali said issuing tickets alone is not the answer.
“People are complaining about enforcement but enforcement alone cannot help us in this pandemic. You are hearing from all quarters pleading with people to abide by the rules. Those regulations are life-saving. They are not restrictions,” Ali said.
He agreed that the relatives of the 191 people who died from COVID could appeal to the public to uphold all laws.
He said a new legal hotline has been set up to address concerns from the public. The office can be reached at 742-6843 or email questions at [email protected]
Last month, ACP Wendell Williams revealed that the TTPS was looking for an alternative venue to house migrants so that they will no longer be housed at the police station.