COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith says that he met with University of the West Indies (UWI) students and apologised for what happened during last week Thursday’s protest at the St Augustine campus.
"I do not want to deal specifically with the UWI matter, but just for information I met with the students at the University of the West Indies and I apologised for what transpired because it was very unfortunate."
He was speaking yesterday during the weekly police media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain.
Griffith said there have been drills for crowd control and there is a specific unit – Guard and Emergency Branch – which is trained and prepared and will now be the first line of response and it will not be the regular police officers.
"I do admit, and this is also why I did apologise about the incident at the University of the West Indies, things could have been done in a different manner."
He said in crowd control drills, it is not appropriate for officers to have rifles slung over them while trying to apprehend inividuals.
"That can cause probably negligent discharges, it can cause a situation of confrontation."
He said the drills start with speaking with individual, then explaining that he or she can be arrested, pinpoint the leader and have them brought in. He added the only people with weapons would be snipers in strategic locations.
Griffith said, however, for too long every time someone needed a blocked drain repaired or lights installed, the best avenue was to block roads, burn tyres and prevent law-abiding citizens from enjoying their rights. He said while people have a democratic right to protest – and if they write to him requesting permission he will have officers there for their protection – they must protest within the law. He said people cannot block the road, not listen to police and then resist arrest when held. "What else would we expect the Police Service to do?"