Trinidad’s top cop: We did not block voters
Port of Spain – Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith is responding to the letter sent to him by general secretary of the United National Congress (UNC) Dave Tancoo calling for the arrest of police officers who the UNC claimed blocked voters and prevented them from getting to the polling station.
In a statement this afternoon, Griffith said it was reckless and dangerous for Tancoo to accuse the police of using road block exercises as a tactic to frustrate voters at a polling station in St Augustine earlier today.
Tancoo sent a letter via email to the commissioner in which he stated, “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 [to vote].”
In response, Griffith said he found Tancoo’s letter to be highly offensive and dangerous where the general secretary of a political party is accusing the police of willfully stopping people from voting.
Griffith said he received the letter long after “the whole of Trinidad” had seen a copy.
He said what transpired at Evans Street, Curepe, was not a planned roadblock.
He added, “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 fulfill 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.”
According to Griffith, the Cycle Section of the TTPS conducts exercise duties almost on a daily basis at various locations.
“Our records would show that at least once a week we perform exercise duties at Evans Street, Curepe, because motorists often breach a lot of road traffic signs at that location. Officers were mandated by seniors to perform exercises over the weekend, including today, Election Day. The exercise conducted by the Cycle Section today was done in good faith and there was no intention to disrupt the elections. During today’s exercise, the officers checked vehicle numbers, drivers’ permits and insurance.”
The commissioner said he visited the location during the day and did not see any line of voters at the said polling station. He said the UNC general secretary could be alluding to political bias by the TTPS by deliberately not allowing supporters of one party to vote.
Griffith said he was not aware that in a road block 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”. (Trinidad Express)