Police Commissioner Gary Griffith yesterday called on citizens to use their phones to record any breaches of the country’s borders.
He was speaking at a news conference hosted by the Ministry of National Security in Port-of-Spain.
“There is no such thing as the perfect crime. When these boats come in, we as citizens love to pull out our phones and take photographs. How often have we seen a photograph of a vessel and you get the name of the vessel?” he asked.
Griffith said it is very difficult for law enforcement or for the state to assist in border security if citizens do not provide the support needed.
He said there were hundreds of different illegal ports and unless citizens were willing to come forward, the authorities had to patrol areas in Moruga, Toco, Icacos, Mayaro, Erin, all along the southwestern peninsular, the southern peninsular, Chaguaramas, all around Tobago and the north coast.
Stating that there was some lack of vested interest by citizens, Griffith said: “But all of these citizens in the areas that I speak about, they go silent. The batteries on their phones die apparently when these vessels enter. Not one photograph have we ever seen of a vessel with the name? Not one time have we seen that we do have rogue elements in the Police Service. Where is the photograph of the police vehicle that is accompanying and escorting these individuals when they land? Where are the photos and the names of the people who assist in aiding and abetting for the illegal entry?” he asked.
He said when individuals involved in facilitating border breaches were caught and apprehended, they were usually people with gold chains hanging to their stomachs, claiming they were fishermen as though they were catching goldfish.
“When they are caught and even when you go to their funerals you hear cries in Spanish accents and Trini accents because these men are seen as the Robin Hoods in these communities. They are not the Robin Hoods, Trinidad and Tobago. These individuals have become the catalyst towards the biggest problem we have in this country…one of the biggest which is illegal immigration,” Griffith warned.
He said some have also become the catalysts towards major crime. And illegal immigration where there were 120,000 out of 700,000 adults illegally in T&T, which could lead to a major issue for crime in a country.
He reiterated his appeal to citizens to help, encouraging them to use their phones to start recording vessels when they are coming in, provide the names of the players, and the police vehicles involved in escorting such groups.
“We are doing a lot and we are going to push back. But what I am asking for is the support of the public. Instead of just being the armchair critic to state about the borders being porous, you need to provide that support to help us so we could help you,” said Griffith.
His statements were backed up by Chief of Defence Staff, Air Commodore Darryl Daniel, who was also present at yesterday’s conference. Daniel said: “There is a network that is facilitating this and I would employ the media and the general public to work at that challenge because these citizens of ours who are facilitating that are putting us, the other citizens and themselves in danger.”
He added, “Because somebody facilitated into being trafficked into the country does not wear a badge that tells you ‘I have COVID, I have TB, I have anything, and they now come into our system, we don’t know that they are in the system or bringing whatever they might be bringing or not bringing as the case may be.”
He said while there was a humanitarian aspect involved in some cases, it was the business of the authorities to put things in place to protect the country’s legitimate citizens first.
He reiterated Griffith’s call to the citizenry to come forward and speak out.