Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayson Forde said yesterday that the T&T Police Service (TTPS) will take action against anyone found to be in breach of the COVID-19 regulations.
Forde gave the warning during the TTPS’ weekly media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.
He noted that while the public had been complaining that the police were tardy in certain recent cases which were highlighted in social media, they were also guilty of recording such breaches but alerting the police “after the fact.”
“We have one of the mottos, if you see something say something. So we are asking the public when you see it happening get the info to us,” Forde said.
“We are replete with history where persons have informed us of offensive behaviours taking place. And we’ve responded and reported the actions taken. We are not here to shield or block for anybody. Anyone found breaching the COVID-19 regulations, we will take action.”
Raising the incident of an alleged breach at an event Down the Islands recently, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith asked anyone with information on that to come forward as the TTPS is still investigating the claims.
“Persons are asked not to record the crimes and then call police but call the police first so that illegal activities can be caught as they happen,” Griffith said.
Griffith added that social media has proven to be an avenue where many people make comments followed by a domino effect where persons believe those statements to be true.
“As it pertains to videos shown a few weeks ago with certain persons Down the Islands, again bringing it up, it gives the perception that the TTPS is biased and we only select and handpick persons we enforce the law on but nothing can be further than the truth,” he said.
“It was stated that it had to do with the one per cent whatever that is. However, when looking at it we couldn’t even find one per cent of that one per cent in that video. What has happened now is because of regulations with masks and numbers, anyone who sends a photograph or video from now to 20 years ago, all the persons who become law enforcement experts, ask why they not wearing masks? Why so many persons assembled? We cannot be looking at videos that can be years ago and months ago and then try to go down a line just to arrest persons to satisfy others.”
Forde said the TTPS’ Cyber and Social Media Unit is “actively pursuing the video to ascertain its origin.”
“We are aware that police officers, by and large, respond to reports and take action. What is imperative is that in light of the COVID-19 regulations, many of these videos are sent to us after the fact. What we are asking is please don’t wait till long after and then ask what is the police doing about it? We will investigate but give us this kind of information in real-time so we can respond and catch them in the act.”
Forde also reminded citizens to stay away from seas and beaches.
“You cannot be on a vessel and go in the water. You cannot be in your house Down the Islands and jump off your jetty and go in the water. Many would ask if I jump off my boat or jetty how can that cause the spread? And maybe you have some justification for that. However, this would open a Pandora’s box. This is why we’ve stopped to the process that all the waters in T&T, no one is to go in waters or beaches regardless of home or vessel.”
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that one trainee at the T&T Police Service’s Training Academy had tested positive for COVID-19 and 42 others were displaying flu-like symptoms and currently awaiting their respective results.
Forde noted that the other trainees who were displaying particular symptoms had been “isolated and were being attended to.”
Since July to today, several police officers have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus while scores have been placed under 14-day quarantines for having had direct contact with the officers who tested positive. Several police stations and buildings have also been closed down temporarily for sanitisation.
Forde also announced that the TTPS will be distributing face masks to citizens from today as they do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.