Police Commissioner Gary Griffith believes the people of T&T have grown and matured as it related to the hosting of parties and use of fireworks to ring in the new year.
In an interview, yesterday morning – which followed a long night of monitoring festivities across the country on the night of December 31 and into the wee hours of January 1 – Griffith said, “What I saw last night (Dec 31) is a very positive sign for this country.”
Pleasantly surprised by it, he went on, “It showed the professionalism and maturity of this country.
“The vast majority of this country, virtually all adhered to their responsibility. We would have seen all the restaurants, bars and hotels…whether it was based on them understanding their responsibility or whether it was based on releases issued by the TTPS, virtually everyone did what was required.”
Griffith said they had not received any reports of anyone hosting events around midnight which meant persons did what was required of them.
In addition, he said there were no reports of private residences hosting large parties or major events.
He confirmed, “What you had were many small events in certain private homes.”
Griffith credited citizens for understanding the appeal by the various authorities to observe public health regulations as he said, “Persons would not be aware of the damage that could have been done to this country if it is that all hell broke loose and people just threw caution to the wind and said, this is my time to ring in the new year because I had a rough time last year and I intend to do what I want to do. This was not done.”
Acknowledging the bitter complaints from certain quarters regarding warnings not to host old year’s night parties or flout the law, the CoP said the behaviour displayed on December 31, 2020 was an indication of the responsibility, maturity and professionalism of our people.
Indicating he had pulled out all the stops as part of the TTPS’s readiness response on December 31 – Griffith revealed that in addition to lifting the alert state, nightly patrols which usually number between 20 to 25, had been increased to over 200.
He said, “We pulled out all extra police vehicles that would not be used at night and would have been used normally for financial, administrative and logistics purposes and other special units.
“We got many officers who volunteered and they agreed to come out and work to man those vehicles.”
Observing from the National Operations Command Centre (NOCC), Griffith said there were limited vehicles on the road.
Commending all officers who left their families and loved ones to come out and work, Griffith said it was the joint efforts by both law enforcement and citizens that resulted in a safe and incident-free new year.
Wading into the controversy regarding the sale and use of fireworks, Griffith said, “If licenses continue to be given to persons to import fireworks and then authorization for anyone over 16 years of age to purchase it…and if by a miracle the police can apprehend the individual, the deterrent is so low because it is only a $400 fine.”
Observing footage from around the country at the NOCC, Griffith said, “The number of fireworks we observed was very small in comparison to what is usually seen.”
He said it is difficult for police to arrest persons setting off fireworks unless they are present, or if there is video footage or reports by witnesses. He admitted this was an area which remained challenging for the TTPS due to the easy access for the importation and sale.
Extending condolences to persons who lost loved ones through crime and COVID-19 last year, Griffith said as the nation welcomes 2021, “I would like the nation to see the glass as half full and not half empty. What we saw happen at the stroke of midnight on December 31, is a very positive sign for T&T.”
“ So many people had such a difficult year that you would think they would have thrown caution to the wind and been irresponsible and do something that could have a domino effect on the health of this country, but we saw positivity and hope in the behaviour.”