President of the Police Social and Welfare Association Insp Michael Seales is calling on police to be resolute and stand their ground when being challenged by people intent on preventing them from carrying out their duties. Seales made the comment in response to the increasing incidence of people verbally and physically attacking the police when attempting to make arrests in certain areas.
Yesterday, he renewed his call for the issuance of non-lethal weapons to aid officers in situations where they may risk being overwhelmed by mobs.
“The government must put that in their budgetary allocations,” Seales said.
“I too must inform the commissioner to please provide the officers with pepper spray and tasers so they can respond adequately to disperse the crowd and go to the main offender.”
One such incident occurred on Sunday when irate residents of Beetham Gardens intervened and took away a man who, police alleged, pointed a gun at them. Reports are that members of the Inter-Agency Task Force were on patrol in the area when they saw three men who ran away when they saw the police. One of the men was confronted a short while later and was shot in his leg when he allegedly pulled out the gun. The police attempted to take him to the hospital but were prevented from doing so when residents surrounded the wounded man and took him away. Police officers retreated and called for back-up. The man was subsequently arrested and is in hospital under police guard.
On August 28, Beetham Gardens residents staged a heated protest during which they threatened the police and threw debris onto the Beetham Highway. The residents claimed the police were unfairly targeting people in the area.
The following day, three members of the Princes Town CID beat a hasty retreat out of Indian Walk, Moruga when they were threatened by residents who armed themselves with sticks and stones and threatened their lives when they attempted to arrest a 42-year-old man who they suspected was carrying a gun. Not even a warning shot fired in the air by police was enough to disperse the residents who taunted the policemen who eventually left after the man escaped. The man’s wife, Lisa Woods defended him saying certain men were being targeted in the community.
“They are wrongfully accusing us of attacking the police and they wrongfully accuse my husband of having a gun,” Woods said. Video footage of those three incidents were uploaded on social media.
On Sunday, members of the Cumuto Unit, Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch were on patrol near Trincity when they saw a man walking on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway with a belt in his hand. In a video also uploaded to social media, the man, identified as 41-year-old Terrence Samuel of Heliconia Crescent, La Horquetta, was seen striking a policeman with the belt. He was eventually subdued by the policeman, a colleague and a member of the public. Samuel was charged by Cpl Roger Coombs with assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty, resisting arrest and obstruction on a highway. He appeared before Arima Magistrate, Debbie Ann Bassaw yesterday and was denied bail. The matter was adjourned to Thursday.
Seales commended the citizen who helped the police and called on the public to partner with them as they continue to police communities since the responsibility of securing communities must not fall solely on the shoulders of the Police Service. He said citizens have a part to play in the fight against crime.
Newsday spoke yesterday with Assistant Commissioner of Police Irwin Hackshaw who denounced the attacks on the police.
“Dialogue is a key component of good police-community relations,” he said. “We must also have some kind of mediation with residents of the Beetham and proactive community policing really needs to be implemented. Compliance, as well as law and order, must be maintained.”