COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith has announced a new unit– an emergency response unit– will be established soon to provide additional safety for the nation’s schools.
Griffith made the comments at a news conference today after meeting with Education Minister Anthony Garcia and other officials at education towers in Port of Spain. The unit will comprised over 140 cars, all of which are to be GPS-traced and monitored by the operations command centre.
“The concept of this is to ensure it is not just to reduce crime but to reduce the perception of fear, especially in the schools. If we secure our schools now, it will make it easier to secure our country in the future,” Griffith said.
He said police are already present outside schools and static patrols will remain. The creation of the new unit is the ministry’s way of going “a bit further” in securing schools, students and staff.
Describing the meeting as productive, Griffith said the police service continues to work hand in hand with the Education Ministry.
“We cannot work in silos, so there are certain committees established to deal with things like behavioural issues, gang involvement, law-enforcement and hard targeting,” Griffith said. Both the Education and National Security ministries collaborate via two sub-committees.
One deals with issues such as violence in schools and what can be done to deter it while the other committee deals with the social aspect to minimise concerns one may encounter in schools, Griffith said. Other initiatives are to be implemented to deal with school safety and security but both Garcia and Commissioner Griffith declined to elaborate for national security reasons.
Asked about metal detectors in the nation’s schools, Garcia said schools must never be seen as jails. “Our schools must always be seen as institutions of learning. Because of that, we want to stay as far away from anything that would give the impression that schools are not carrying out basic functions.”
“We recognised there are problems with indiscipline and violence in schools and we have been able to secure a drastic reduction in such incidents. The police have been assisting tremendously in this regard,” Garcia said.