Griffith: UNC's comments on SAGHS roadblock 'dangerous, reckless'

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. -
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. -

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has described as “reckless” and “dangerous” comments made by UNC general secretary Davendranath Tancoo.

Tancoo accused the police of blocking voters from accessing the polling stations at St Augustine Girls’ High School in Curepe on Monday.

In an e-mail to the CoP, Tancoo said an ongoing police roadblock and spot check on Evans Street was frustrating electors from accessing the venue.

“It is clear to us that these sudden exercises are meant to delay voters in that area, and to interfere with the free and proper exercise of the franchise. It is an abuse of police powers and the officers concerned are engaging in electoral offences, and should be immediately arrested.

"We ask that you use your good office to ensure that all necessary police action is bona fide so as not to frustrate the rights of electors.”

In a release, the police commissioner said he found Tancoo’s letter very offensive and dangerous, as the general secretary was accusing the police of wilfully stopping people from voting.

He said the roadblock was not a planned one.

“There was reckless driving taking place in a certain area so the officers started to stop vehicles. A General Election does not mean that the TTPS is no longer required to fulfil our other duties. So people must break a red light, or drive on the shoulder, or overtake indiscriminately because it is Election Day? That is very absurd indeed.

"The TTPS will continue to effectively discharge its duties, whether it is Election Day, Carnival, or Christmas. We have our normal duties to perform and this shows the reckless and disingenuous comments coming from the General Secretary of a political party."

Griffith said records show that an exercise takes place on Evans Street at least once weekly because drivers often breach road signs there.

“Officers were mandated by seniors to perform exercises over the weekend including today, Election Day. The exercise conducted by the Cycle Section today (Monday) was done in good faith and there was no intention to disrupt the elections. During today's exercise, the officers checked vehicle numbers, drivers permit and insurance."

Griffith said he visited the location during the day and did not see any line of voters at the polling station in question.

He pointed out that the UNC general secretary could be alluding to political bias by the police by deliberately not allowing supporters of one party to vote.

The CoP said he was not aware that in a roadblock on election day, the cars are painted red or yellow so these "biased" officers would know which to stop and which to allow to pass.

Newsday visited the site in the afternoon and observers said the police exercise had taken place between 6 am and 9 am.

While the number of police officers and vehicles present were reported to be larger than usual during these exercises, a security official said voter turnout was high during that period.


"Griffith: UNC’s comments on SAGHS roadblock ‘dangerous, reckless’"

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