Trinidad gov’t announces new unit to tackle crime

Port of Spain, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government has announced the establishment of a National Security Special Operations Group to deal with criminal activities in the country.

But National Security Minister Gary Griffith made it clear that the new unit comprising, highly trained and specialised people capable of dealing with hostage negotiation, counter-terrorist activities and gang warfare, was different from the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) that the coalition government disbanded soon after coming to office in 2010.

Griffith, speaking in the Senate on Tuesday, said that rather than have a special task force “what we are having now is a National Security Special Operations Group” which is necessary in the battle to deal with crime in the country.

Griffith, a former senior official of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, defended the establishment of the unit, noting that the government was aware that there were concerns that there might be certain elements in the police service who may be “on the take” at certain stations.

He said in some instances, law enforcement authorities were denied in carrying out their tasks because “ when you get a tip-off they (the criminal element) are already aware of what has happened…I lived it in my 15 years with the military where when we about to make a raid with the police.”

“So we are putting a type of operation unit to ensure that there would be no breach in security as well as building back confidence and trust in the same police service to weed out those rogue elements in the Police Service so we cannot have the problem where certain stations are being controlled and manipulated by individuals in gangs.”

He said the unit will comprise several different arms of law enforcement: Army, Coast Guard, Immigration, Customs, the Police Service and Prisons among others.

“This is not a covert unit and I think this was the concern with SAUTT…where you didn’t know what they were doing. This is not a clandestine unit, this is not a Flying Squad. This is something that is very open and transparent …but will deal with the concept of major criminal activities … in the 21st century,” he said.

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