A Santa Rosa resident speaks with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith after the Police Town Meeting at the Santa Rosa Primary School in Santa Rosa, Arima on Thursday. At right is Arima MP Pennelope Beckles.

Santa Rosa residents have been assured by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith that neither the Santa Rosa Police Post nor the Pinto Road Police Post will be closed.

The commissioner’s denial that the stations, in the Arima community, were to be shut down came after residents expressed concern about possible closures.

Apologizing to Santa Rosa residents at Thursday evening’s meeting, Commissioner Griffith admitted the denial ought to have been communicated earlier.

Before the meeting, there were rumours that angry residents were planning to protest.

“Whoever has been giving you that information is very mischievous, false and misleading. At no time is any station to be closed,” Griffith said, to applause from the crowd, at the Santa Rosa Government Primary School.

He did, however, confirm that there would be changes at the stations.

The stations are going to be repurposed to keep in line with 21st-century policing, Griffith claimed.

While, in the past, victims of crime were forced to wait for hours in archaic waiting rooms, they will no longer have to do so in the repurposed stations, the commissioner said.

“Imagine, you had a child who was just assaulted, or a mother who was just raped, or someone’s daughter who has just been beaten by a loved one…or, your wife or child that has to stay in a waiting room for 20-odd hours…Now, we’re setting up a system to ensure that if you have that type of crime – the person can be immediately sent into a specific facility in that building to ensure that there is a degree of confidentiality, sensitivity and to treat the person in a proper manner,” Griffith said.

He claimed that’s not the only change coming soon to the Santa Rosa stations, as well as other stations nationwide.

Going forward, fewer officers will be stationed inside, with more officers outside on patrol in the community, Griffith added.

“We want to get police officers back walking the street, meeting with residents – talking, interacting, getting intelligence and getting information,” he said.

At present, he lamented, 2,500 police officers out of a total of 7,500 officers in the service are based inside stations at desks.