ACTING Deputy Police Commissioner Deodat Dulalchan has dismissed claims that the static patrols in hotspot areas in the Port of Spain Division is geared towards protecting alleged criminals in those communities.
In a 6.53 second long video circulating on WhatsApp, an unidentified man claimed the patrols at Success Laventille, Beetham Gardens, and Pashley Street, between Eastern Main Road and the Priority Bus Route, were attempts to protect members of the Rasta City gang from the Muslim gang. The man in the audio gave an Islamic greeting to his would-be listeners.
Head of the Port of Spain Division Snr Supt Floris Hodge Griffith when sent the video responded saying: “The CoP (Gary Griffith) and DCP Dulalchan are the appropriate heads to respond to this, as the commander of Port of Spain my remit is contingent upon their dictate.”
Dulalchan, when contacted, said the video first needed to be authenticated. He added that apart from that, static patrols were placed in hotspots to protect residents and as a means of deterring criminal activities. Dulalchan said the patrols would protect everyone, even those who may be gang members if the live in the community.
“Where we set up these patrols is in hotspot areas, not by no pastor or church it is not in ‘good area’ you know,” Dulalchan said adding that the claims of the man in the video needed to be verified and, if found to be true, investigated.
The patrols and stationing of police in hotspots have not stopped crimes in those communities. Last Sunday three people were killed following a gun attack at Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots. A day after Tracy Julius Rogers, 31, a mother of two, was called out by name by someone and shot dead. Police believe Rogers, who was buried yesterday, may have known something about the triple murder. Another theory is that the drive-by stemmed from a shoot-out between both gangs the day before. Police said Sea Lots residents were involved in a shooting following a Carnival fete in Chagauramas. The shooting happened out at sea as the men arrived to the event by boat and while leaving there was an altercation that continued in the Gulf of Paria.
Senior police said on the night of the drive-by, the shooters timed police on patrol in Sea Lots and when the chance arose, they attacked. Port of Spain Division officers said they make constant patrols in that area otherwise it would “be chaos”.
The man in the video called on police to “give we ah ease” as he accused Government of favouring Rasta City members and targeting Muslims. To bolster his claim of corruption and nepotism, he recalled the arrest of two Beetham community leaders – Kenneth “Spanish” Rodriquez and Ancel “Chemist” Villafana two years ago.
Following the their arrest, in November 2017, Beetham residents blocked the Priority Bus Route and Beetham Highway, and drivers were robbed in the traffic. The men were detained at Besson Street Police Station and released two hours apart, with Villafana being free after he paid an outstanding $2,000 for a fine he received in the past. Police denied their release was to appease angry residents while residents claimed that their protest was for better jobs and living conditions.
The irate man said there were never any protest following arrests of Muslims, including a murder accused who is before the courts. He claimed police and politicians appeared to find evidence of gang-related activities against Muslims and none against the other faction.
Sea Lots businessman Cedric “Burkie” Burke who was arrested during the 2011 state of emergency and charged with being a gang leader was released after the Director of Public Prosecutions said there was no evidence. Burke, who survived last week’s shooting, has since sued the State and has repeatedly denied he is affiliated to the Rasta City gang.