“We apologise for the situation,” she said, adding that acting Assistant Commissioner Vincel Edwards has been given 14 days to get answers on yesterday’s action, which caused major disruption in the several areas of operations across the country. Alleyne-Daly admitted that the police leadership was unaware of plans for yesterday’s roadblocks. “Had we known about this we would have taken measures. It went beyond what is normal,” she added.
But despite that, she also said National Security Minister Brigadier Carl Alfonso did not have the authority to tell the officers to “stand down” in the exercises. Alfonso had reportedly posted the directive on social media yesterday as thousands responded angrily to the nationwide roadblocks. Talks between the Police Social Welfare Association and the Chief Personnel Officer have broken down as officers have rejected the offer made by the CPO.
Yesterday’s roadblocks affected thousands of citizens, including students. Some schools dismissed classes by lunchtime as the teachers and other staff were unable to get to work. Police conducted a similar exercise along the East West Corridor last week but that did not cause the kind of disruption of yesterday’s event. On that occasion, the police said they were looking for suspects in a white vehicle who had committed illegal activity in central Trinidad.
Yesterday, Alleyne-Daly said it was normal for the TTPS to have “total policing days,” which involved setting up roadblocks as an anti-crime initiative. She said such actions were normally sanctioned by operational inspectors. But following yesterday’s occurrence, Alleyne-Daly said with immediate effect the authority to initiate road check exercises would be taken away from inspectors and “reside only with the divisional commanders and heads of sections and branches.”
In distancing the TTPS from yesterday’s action, Alleyne-Daly said it should not have caused so much inconvenience to the travelling public. She said while there would be more “total policing days” in future, it would not be on such a magnitude on a daily basis and would be held in different areas in different divisions. Alleyne-Daly said the executive was aware of the ongoing wage negotiations with the CPO, adding the executive was in support of the collective bargaining process.
She was not prepared to reveal what sanctions could be placed on the officers if the investigation showed the action was in breach of police regulations, noting she did not want to pre-empt the investigation. Asked about the success of yesterday’s initiative, Alleyne-Daly said she was unaware of any arrests during the exercise. She said the exercise, which began at 5 am, involved officers from every division and police would also investigate reports of people in the roadblock at Beetham Gardens being robbed.
Alleyne-Daly said she had communicated with acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, who is abroad, on the matter and he was in support of the action being taken by the executive to prevent a recurrence of such action. She said the police executive also discussed yesterday’s incident with Alfonso.