Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says he is not intimidated by what he says is the merging of rival gangs to fight the police.
“They are using this to build their criminal cartel, and crime is big business,” he told the media during a press conference on Wednesday.
Griffith believes there is a possibility some gang leaders have been joining forces to plan attacks on the police.
But, asked if he was concerned about this development, he said, “It doesn’t matter. The TTPS is well trained. We are prepared. If anyone tries to have a repeat of (the) 1990 (attempted coup), when it took seven days to quell, I will ensure on my watch, it will be dealt with within seven minutes.”
He was speaking at the police weekly press conference.
He also said he was certain Tuesday’s protests were not linked to the police killing of three men in Morvant on Saturday.
He believes the protests were orchestrated by senior gang members and three political leaders belonging to small parties that influenced the public to discredit the police.
He said the police should be recognised as heroes, because if it weren’t for their swift response there would have been chaos.
Deputy Police Commissioner Jayson Forde described the protests in Port of Spain and other parts of north Trinidad on Tuesday as a “clearly calculated, planned, organised attempt to disrupt TT.”
Griffith said in a release on Tuesday evening that “Based on prior intelligence, mere hours before these criminal elements commenced their act, the TTPS was prepared.”
But Forde said the police were caught off guard by the protests.
“What I saw flabbergasted me.”
He gave an example to show why the protests appeared to have been orchestrated: “I saw what appeared to be females covering their faces holding blue placards like if they were given an instruction.”
Griffith showed video footage, including scenes from the police “war room” or command centre, as well as photos to illustrate the risks police officers face.
Over the last five years, he said, 527 police officers have been shot at, and the police deserve a little recognition.
In one video, several high-powered guns were seen on a bed , while a man declared war on the police. In another, police were moving burning debris left by protesters.
Griffith said, “This action is supposed to be them being concerned…(from) what we saw yesterday, those individuals are enemy of the State, not the police.”
Referring to the shooting incident in Carenage last year in which a teen was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire with the police, Griffith said he was concerned that no attention was given to an officer who was shot in the chest.
“That is what police have to face on a daily basis,” Griffith said, pointing to the screen showing a picture of the bullet wound in the officer’s chest.
Police Social and Welfare Association president Insp Gideon Dickson also applauded the police for their bravery and their control of violent protests on Tuesday.
He said they should be rewarded for their efforts.
“These officers have consistently shown their persistence, loyalty, and dedication to duty…These are the same officers who are still working on 2013 salaries. Now is the opportune time for the CPO to deal with issues affecting officers,” Dickson said.