POLICE are still searching for three gunmen who engaged them in a shootout on Boxing Day in Sea Lots.
According to reports, police were on patrol on Production Avenue, Sea Lots at about 3.10 am, when they heard gunshots. They responded and came across the three gunmen all wearing dark hoodies. Police officers challenged the men to drop their weapons but they responded with gunshots.
Police returned fire but the men escaped into the dark alleyways of Sea Lots. Superintendent Floris Hodge Griffith, told Newsday yesterday that criminals use the maze-like areas in Sea Lots, Belmont, Beetham and other areas in East Port of Spain to their advantage to elude police, making it imperative that police officers apprehend suspects on sight.
“We have to catch them as quickly as possible. Because they have the advantage. They know the area well,” Hodge Griffith said. She added that while police are trained to chase and catch criminals, most times they are unable to navigate through these narrow, inter-connecting alleys, lanes and tracks, making catching criminals all the more difficult.
“The area (Sea Lots) is like a tenement yard. The road could start here and you could end up across the pond by running through alleyways and tracks,” Hodge Griffith explained. “There are even secret doors made from galvanise that the criminals use. The terrain is unfamiliar to us, especially under the cover of darkness, so as soon as we lose sight of them, we lose them period.” Hodge Griffith said if police officers are able to recognise the suspects, then even if they escape, a warrant for their arrest would be issued. Despite these challenges, the Port of Spain Division saw several successes last year, which they intend to build on in the new year.
Newsday was told that for 2018, the Port of Spain Division experienced a 36 percent decrease in serious crime. “We’ve had some success in 2018, and we will be coming back even harder this year against the criminal element,” Hodge Griffith said.
Hodge Griffith advised the public to contact the police at 999, 555, 800-TIPS, or contact Commissioner Griffith directly at 482-GARY, if they have any information on the whereabouts of wanted suspects, or any criminal activity.