Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said yesterday he is willing to meet with members of the Barkeepers and Operators’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) as soon as he gets a formal request.
“If they want to meet I am willing I’ll meet today,” Griffith said.
However, Interim president of the Association Teron Mohan said they already sent several requests and got no responses.
He said the most recent one was sent on July 15 with the subject, “Request to meet with Commissioner of Police.” But Griffith said he received no such correspondence.
“Ask them where it is?” he asked.
Mohan said he had requested the meeting to discuss the relationship between some bar owners and police officers.
He said during the three-week period where bars were asked to close at 8 pm, some officers contradicted the Public Health Ordinance and treated bar owners with restaurant licenses unfairly.
“I would also like to appeal to the TTPS to just kinda get on one level… understand what their policing is requiring of them,” he said.
“In one instance it was you need to lock off liquor sales at 8 pm and between now and 10 pm you are only allowed to sell food that is not so,” he continued.
Mohan said there seems to be a mix or lost in translation where amendments to the law made because of COVID-19 were misinterpreted.
“I have tremendous support for the TTPS but there are a few bad apples,” Mohan said.
He hopes the meeting with the commissioner will clear up any uncertainty.
There are currently 5,000 registered bars in T&T and the association has a membership of 300.
Apart from its attempts to meet with Griffith, the association took offence with a comment made by the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on Saturday.
When asked if the time extension had anything to do with the lawsuit between the state and barkeepers, the AG said no.
Mohan said Al-Rawi trivialised their plight.
“We will have our day in court,” he said.
The next hearing is on Thursday.
Mohan said as they moved forward with their case against the state claiming that their rights were breached when the Government forced them to close bars at 8 pm while restaurants were allowed to operate until 10 pm.
The compensation they are asking for will be in the millions of dollars.
“I can happily say there are six zeros attached to it,” he said.
Mohan asked bar operators to act responsibly and within the law. He said he hoped eventually the time limit can increase.