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Monday, July 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 5th JULY, 2014
National Security Minister
Gary Griffith says Defence Force
patrols in communities in east
Port-of-Spain will continue
despite opposition from resi-
dents, who have made claims
of assaults and other human
rights infringements at the
hands of soldiers.
Griffith made the comment
while responding to criticism
about the patrols, which began
shortly after the murder of Lance
Corporal Kayode Thomas in John
John, Laventille, last Sunday.
Accusing the soldiers of using
excessive force, members of the
Laventille community and other
members of the public had been
calling for the police s involve-
ment in the patrols.
Comparing the patrols to those
done by private security firms
and neighbourhood watch groups,
however, Griffith said: "There is
nothing illegal in a patrol inde-
pendent of police officers."
He said from his personal
experience, a strong response
from the military in instances of
attacks on its members is an
"It s a natural reaction. If you
touch one soldier, you touch all,"
But while he defended the
Defence Force s response to
Thomas s killing, he acknowl-
edged the concerns raised about
the need for a police presence
in cases where arrests and
searches of homes and vehicles
As such, he said there will be
involvement from the police in
all future patrols, but he warned
this involvement did not mean
that soldiers would be standing
"shoulder to shoulder" with
police during patrols.
"It is not a witch hunt or retal-
iation," Griffith said.
He also revealed that Deputy
Police Commissioner Glenn
Hackett met with Chief of
Defence Staff Major General
Kendrick Maharaj early yesterday
to devise methods to facilitate
joint patrols of east Port-of-Spain.
The T&T Guardian made sev-
eral calls to Hackett s cellphone
for comment yesterday but he
did not answer.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith noted
that since the Defence Force patrols began in
Port-of-Spain, he had received commendations
from numerous law-abiding citizens who said
the high visibility patrols had returned a "concept
of calm" to their communities.
Griffith said the only people he felt were being
negatively affected by the patrols were criminals
whose activities were being dampened.
"I have no care for their concerns. They are
most irrelevant," he said.
Contacted yesterday, vice-president of the Police
Social and Welfare Association Insp Roger Alexan-
der also underscored the need for police input in
"There are some inconsistencies in the law with
soldiers searching properties and vehicles. This
is not a state of emergency," Alexander said.
Like Griffith, Alexander, who also has a military
background, said he understood the response of
Thomas s colleagues. He also sought to dispel
protests from residents who claimed they were
being victimised and abused by soldiers.
Alexander said there were many soldiers and
police who live in east Port-of-Spain and Laventille
and suggested that the patrols were aimed at
ensuring the safety of their colleagues and their
families. He said the Defence Force also maintained
a small base in Laventille and the increased pres-
ence in military personnel in the area could be
attributed to soldiers travelling to and from it.
"I don t see what all the hullabaloo is about,"
Residents are not the only people to complain
about the patrols, as CNC3 journalist Samuel
McKnight and cameraman Mano Ragbir were
reportedly threatened while attempting to film a
group of soliders at St Paul Street, East Dry River,
The duo has since reported the incident to
Besson Street police, who have launched an inves-
The following day, civil military affairs officer
of the Defence Force, Major Al Alexander, apol-
ogised for the incident.
Soldiers to continue Laventille patrols
by some citizens
Patrons enjoy themselves during the Glo 5 Fantasy Land fete at Space La Nouba, Gulf View, La Romaine, on Saturday.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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