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Monday 17 June 2019
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CoP launches drones to monitor Carnival

A Matrice 100 drone equipped with a Zenmuse Z30 Camera  on display at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Saturday. The drone is among those that will be used by the TT Police Service to monitor Carnival this year. PHOTO BY
Jeff K Mayers
A Matrice 100 drone equipped with a Zenmuse Z30 Camera on display at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Saturday. The drone is among those that will be used by the TT Police Service to monitor Carnival this year. PHOTO BY Jeff K Mayers

The TT Police Service (TTPS) is using as much technology as possible to keep people safe for the Carnival weekend and beyond.

Launching the TTPS’ new drones yesterday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said the service had acquired several of two types of drones to monitor various Carnival celebrations in Port of Spain and environs, Arima, San Fernando, and Chaguanas, as well as the beaches and other areas people tended to gather during the season. Eventually they will also be used for boarder security.

Anthony Vieira, managing director of Rectrix Drone Services Ltd, the company that supplied the drones to the TTPS, explained it was the first time military-grade drones were used in TT. He said the Silent Falcon long-endurance drone, and the tethered system would be used for persistent surveillance as well as intelligence gathering and reconnaissance.

The tethered and fixed-wing drones can stay in the air for several hours without recharging, have night vision, can lock on to a target and follow it, have 30x optical zoom, infrared capabilities and other abilities.

Ronny Rampallard, sergeant in charge of the TTPS Air Support Unit added that the drones would also be used for monitoring the test phases of the two-way traffic flow around the Savannah. It would send a live feed to a mobile command post as well as the operational command centre at the National Operations Fusion Centre so divisional, operations and gold commanders could make informed decisions in terms of re-deploying troops or making changes to temporary traffic flow.

“There will be two aspects. One, we will be moving in a covert sort of way to detect crime and criminal elements. And the other, we will be having a high visibility aspect aviation exercise as a deterrent during the Carnival period,” Rampallard explained.

In addition to the drones, dashboard cameras and GPS locators would be used on emergency response patrol vehicles. At the moment, only some have the cameras but all should be equipped in the next few weeks.

Griffith said 85 vehicles would operate around the clock over the Carnival weekend and they would be monitored from the operational command centre, the Commissioner’s Command Centre in the TTPS Administration building, a mobile command centre which would be located at the Savannah on Carnival Monday, and the Socadrome, Jean Pierre Complex, on Carnival Tuesday, and other locations throughout the country.

The vehicles would also be tracked through GPS to ensure they stayed in their areas of responsibility.

Griffith said, “What we are doing is putting a blanket throughout TT for Carnival Monday and Tuesday whereby we can have a response within minutes through a 999 call or if we pick up a distress call... This is going to ensure that we monitor where all the vehicles are, adhere to every distress call via the 999 and also through the use of technology we would be able to see the emergency response patrols.”

More technology was expected to be implemented by the TTPS in the form of a database which was in the process of being compiled.

Griffith said the computerised database would give officers information on a location, individual or vehicle when responding to an emergency situation. He said it would tell officers if an individual owned a firearm, had a criminal record, if any previous reports were made at a particular location, and it would be linked to the Licensing Authority “so the police would know exactly what they are getting themselves into.”

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