General Election Day activity was not without controversy.
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith described as reckless and dangerous United National Congress (UNC) general secretary Davendranath Tancoo’s accusation that the police used roadblock exercises in Curepe as a tactic to frustrate voters from getting to a polling station in St Augustine.
The top CoP’s criticism came after 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).”
Tancoo referred to the exercise as an abuse of police powers.
But in response, Griffith described Tancoo’s letter as highly offensive and dangerous. Griffith said he received the letter long after “the whole of Trinidad” had seen a copy of it. He said it was clear “what the intention of the General Secretary was.”
Griffith explained that what transpired at Evans Street, Curepe, was not a planned roadblock.
According to Griffith, “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 fulfil 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.”
He said the police 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.”
Griffith said 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.”
He said officers were mandated by seniors to perform exercises over the weekend, including Election Day. That exercise, he said, was done “in good faith and there was no intention to disrupt the elections.”
During yesterday’s exercise, “the officers checked vehicle numbers, drivers permit and insurance.”
Griffith said he visited the location during the day and did not see any line of voters at the said polling station.
He said the UNC secretary could be alluding to political bias by the TTPS by deliberately not allowing supporters of one party to vote. But he said he was not aware that in a roadblock 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.