Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith, as he spoke with the media this morning at International School in Port of Spain, when he stopped by to check all was well with the voting process. (Image: Shirley Bahadur)

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has responded to comments from the General Secretary of the United National Congress (UNC), concerning police exercises being carried out today, Election Day.

The UNC official expressed the view that the police exercises were negatively impacting the voting process, and suggested they were deliberately doing so.

However, in an official statement issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), the Police Commissioner states such commentary is “dangerous and reckless”.

The full text of the TTPS statement, follows…

CoP: RECKLESS AND DANGEROUS COMMENTS FROM UNC GENERAL SECRETARY

Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, says it was reckless and dangerous for the General Secretary of the United National Congress (UNC), Davendranath Tancoo, to accuse the Police of using road block exercises as a tactic to frustrate voters at a polling station in St Augustine earlier today.

Mr Tancoo sent a letter via email to the CoP in which he stated,

“…it is clear to us that these sudden exercises are meant to delay voters in that area, and to interfere with the free and proper exercise of the franchise (to vote).”

Mr Tancoo referred to the exercise as an abuse of police powers.

In response, Commissioner Griffith found Tancoo’s letter to be highly offensive and dangerous where the General Secretary of a political party is accusing the police of willfully stopping people from voting.

The CoP says that he received the letter long after “the whole of Trinidad” had seen a copy, saying it is clear what the intention of the General Secretary was.

The CoP says what transpired at Evans Street, Curepe, was not a planned roadblock. He added:

“There was reckless driving taking place in a certain area so the officers started to stop vehicles. A General Election does not mean that the TTPS is no longer required to fulfill our other duties. So people must break a red light, or drive on the shoulder, or overtake indiscriminately because it is Election Day? That is very absurd indeed. The TTPS will continue to effectively discharge its duties, whether it is Election Day, Carnival, or Christmas. We have our normal duties to perform and this shows the reckless and disingenuous comments coming from the General Secretary of a political party.”

According to the CoP, the Cycle Section, of the TTPS conducts exercise duties almost on a daily basis at various locations. Our records would show that at least once a week we perform exercise duties at Evans Street, Curepe, because motorists often breach a lot of road traffic signs at that location. Officers were mandated by seniors to perform exercises over the weekend including today, Election Day. The exercise conducted by the Cycle Section today was done in good faith and there was no intention to disrupt the elections. During today’s exercise, the officers checked vehicle numbers, drivers permit and insurance.”

The CoP says he visited the location during the day and did not see any line of voters at the said polling station. He points out that the UNC General Secretary could be alluding to political bias by the TTPS by deliberately not allowing supporters of one party to vote. The CoP says he was not aware that in a road block on Election Day, the cars are painted red or yellow so these biased officers would know which to stop and which to allow to pass.