POLICE ground and air assets in south-west Trinidad are being reinforced to strengthen border security as the Venezuela crisis unfolds.
Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith made that disclosure yesterday to members of the National Security Joint Select Committee (JSC) at a public hearing at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre. “We are aware there is a clear and present danger in dealing with what is happening on the mainland,” Griffith said.
By February 1, Griffith said, “We will be redeploying troops, covert and overt, in the right manner to ensure that we have that border secured.” He also said air assets in the south-west peninsula would be reinforced to complement police ground forces there. Griffith said the National Security Council was dealing with an initiative that would ensure effective use of helicopters by all security forces in the area. He recalled the issue of cost was hampering helicopter usage.
Helicopters, Griffith explained, will be critical for patrols and “the immediate deployment of troops” in volatile situations. He said aerial surveillance would be bolstered by the use of unmanned aerial vehicles which could be deployed 24/7 and used to provide real-time information to co-ordinate police ground operations. Griffith told JSC members the police remained the catalyst for intelligence within this country’s national security apparatus. Because police officers stationed in south-west Trinidad play a critical role in border security, Griffith said those officers must answer a polygraph test about whether they were involved in or benefit from the drug and gun trade in the area. Those officers are reassigned if they refuse to take the test. Griffith said he could only use polygraph tests to reassign and not remove officers but he said that disciplinary measure ensured the border was properly protected. “I can put my head on a block that police officers who are stationed there, they are doing their job.”
He said officers attached to other elite units were also subject to polygraph tests. Griffith disclosed plans for a covert operations unit which “can provide information to us without even the criminals being aware they are there.” There are also plans for a counter-terrorism unit, cold case unit, domestic violence unit and an improved investigative division which will deal with white-collar crimes.
Griffith also said the use of tasers, pepper spray, body cameras and dashboard cameras by police officers should happen between February and March. He said the police had sufficient funds to implement those initiatives. Griffith said a newspaper report which alleged he wanted the Anti-Corruption Investigative Bureau removed from under the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs was false.