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Making the Carnival safe, secure

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Some members of the T&T Police Service have been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
On two recent Tuesdays, large numbers of policemen and women stayed off the job to protest the offer made by the Chief Personnel Officer in her wage negotiations with these officers of the law. As we had cause to point out in this space recently, that action by some members of the Police Service could have jeopardised members of the public  had they had cause to call a police station. Along with an inability to respond quickly to criminal activities, the fact that a large number of policemen stayed off the job, allegedly as a result of some mysterious ailments, could have created a perception of lawlessness in the country which would have been antithetical to the its development.

Thankfully, many of the police officers who called in “sick” on consecutive Tuesdays seem to be well enough to ensure the safety of the country during the Carnival celebrations. This is as a result of what appears to be some heavy lifting by the Government to ensure that residents of T&T, and the thousands of visitors from the Caribbean and beyond, can enjoy the Carnival in safety. Among the examples of the work the Government has done to ensure that the festival is as crime-free as possible was the meeting that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had on Wednesday morning with the president of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Anand Ramesar and members of his executive.

Attending the meeting along with the Prime Minister were the Minister of National Security, John Sandy, and Minister of Labour Errol Mc Leod. While there was no indication in the statement that followed the meeting that the security arrangements for Carnival were discussed, it is almost certain that there were some assurances provided by the top brass of the police association to the Government on this issue.
Speaking later Wednesday at a function in Penal, the Prime Minister said: “We will have a safe Carnival. I did not get the feeling that they (police) will be falling ill. They will continue to do their duty to protect and serve. I would expect to see a full turnout (of officers) as would come out on a normal day.”

After the meeting between the Prime Minister and police association, there have been statements or briefings from Deputy Commission Jack Ewatski, Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs, and Minister Sandy, as well as an additional statement from the Prime Minister. In her Carnival message yesterday, Mrs Persad-Bissessar assured that the Government had taken appropriate measures to safeguard all citizens and visitors during our Carnival celebrations and said that the State would ensure that “our streets and main events venues are fully protected by the security agencies.”

Two important aspects of being able to deliver on the assurances that have been given repeatedly in the last few days are the ability to have as many officers as possible on duty and the need for high-tech intelligence to ensure that the police are one step ahead of the criminals. From all reports, it seems as though there will be up to 5,000 officers on duty over the days of Carnival. As well, the Prime Minister spoke earlier this week about the installation of some 60 closed circuit cameras (CCTV) at locations nationwide before Carnival celebrations. These cameras will give the police the ability to respond quickly if any untoward incident occurs in one of the populated centres. With these assurances that the requisite security arrangements are in place, we do encourage all who are participating in the bacchanalia to do so joyously but responsibly.


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