An Assistant Superintendent attached to the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) says kicking someone in the back of the head is “not right.”
Making it clear he was not commenting on Thursday’s incident in which police officers were recorded using force against two suspects after a fete at the Queen’s Park Savannah, as it is still under investigation, ASP Avalon Frank yesterday said, “It is not right for you to kick someone in the back of the head, there are tactics to have a person subdued.”
Speaking at the TTPS weekly news briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain, ASP Frank said he could not comment directly on the specific matter at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
This approach was also adopted b acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob, who said he will wait for more information before he comments.
“It will be premature on me to comment and venture into that direction by just looking at the footage and not having all the information as to what took place,” Jacob said.
Six officers attached to the Inter-Agency Task Force are currently under investigation by the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) and the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) following the incident, which occurred after the Jam Naked fete.
Addressing the “use of force” policy, Frank explained the role and function of the GEB, which he said largely involves crowd control. He said sometimes, they encounter people who are “difficult to deal with” and force is required.
“We use as much force as necessary to maintain law and order,” he said.
Frank said oftentimes, the GEB suffers negative public perception given the use of force policy, but he said when encountering criminals, they need to be prepared.
“The criminals need to understand that if they step out of bounds, these pit bulls will bite us and I take no qualms about it and put no water in my mouth to say it, I don’t know if you ever walked in a party and saw gangs face-off with knife and thing,” he noted.
Frank congratulated the police officers who worked outside of the fete venue. He said there were no violent crimes reported.
He said, “You had a little break-in with vehicles but as it pertains to violent crimes, we did not have on violent crime...I must say we did not have one shooting and not one fight.”
Frank said this is a major accomplishment, as the fete was held in an area that is a hub for gangs.
“That area is described as a location that when there’s an event it is marred with a lot of shootings, stabbings and fights and there was not one,” Frank said.
But the GEB officer warned that gangs are also now infiltrating some of the more “prestigious” fetes.
“Just recently I worked the Bacchanal Road in Brian Lara Stadium and they had all kinds of scanners and we found a gun on somebody in the event, a gun, and that was labelled as more of the safer events so we see the gang thing coming even in the more prestigious events,” he said.
Frank said the public is sometimes wary of the GEB’s presence, considering that they’re sometimes referred to as “riot police”. But he said they are a “loving unit” and there only for the public’s protection.
“Whenever you are out there in mass gatherings just know that the GEB is right there lurking in the bushes watching to ensure public safety,” he said.
Also contacted yesterday on the officers’ use of force during the incident was Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West, who said, “It’s still in the preliminary stages so I can’t comment any further and I wouldn’t want to prejudice any investigation going forward.”
Meanwhile, the PCA’s Annual Report for 2020 revealed there were 594 allegations made against police officers between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. A total of 355 of those allegations fell into the category of Serious Police Misconduct. Guardian Media requested data for 2022 so far but was told it would be provided soon.