Acting CoP cancels leave for cops in 5 high-crime areas

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob. –

WITH four men murdered between Sunday night and Monday morning, acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob said he has restricted leave for police officers in five divisions and increased working hours to address the increasing murder toll.

On I95.5 FM Radio on Monday, Jacob said the plan is to increase patrols in the divisions to suppress murders and allow homicide detectives to effectively address the killings.

“It (the murder toll) is concerning to us, but we intend to respond. You have to be careful with your words, we are going to respond in a relentless way.”

Jacob said officers will also be doubling up on working hours with some moving from 24 hours on duty with 48 hours rest, to 24 hours on duty with 24 hours rest. He said it may be difficult on the officers, but it is necessary to respond to the increased crime rate in such a manner.

“We are now operating where we have a patrol initiative, where we are doing patrol grids and patrol beats that we are developing mainly in the urban areas. We can have a higher presence on the streets and reduce the opportunities. And by having high levels of guardianship, it will help in the suppression aspect.”

The four murdered are Akil St John, Ken Saunders, Dwayne Reid and a man yet to be identified.

St John, 42, was shot dead in front his Richardson Road, Laventille home at about 6.30 am on Monday. Police said someone called out to St John who was killed when he answered. He was not involved in criminal activities, relatives said. Police did not give a motive for his killing.

Hours earlier, Reid, 42, of San Fernando, the owner of a car rental business was shot dead at Mitchell Street in South Oropouche after collecting one of his vehicles. Police said, Reid was driving the hold Nissan Tiida at around 1.30 am when a man opened fire on him causing him to crash. No motive has been established.

Saunders, 40, was killed in a similar fashion. Police said Saunders, also known as “Redman,” was on his way home at Ravine Road, Petit Valley at about 10.40 pm on Sunday night when he was shot. He drove off and crashed into a parked Nissan Xtrail and was taken to the St James Health Facility. He was transferred to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he died at about 12.03 am on Monday. Police said his killing is being linked to a domestic dispute as he is not known to be involved in criminal activities.

The fourth killing happened at Longdenville Avenue, Longdenville, at about 11 pm on Sunday night. Police said the deceased was with a group of men playing cards when two sets of gunmen cornered them and opened fire. The men scampered for safety and the deceased fell. He was shot while on the ground. His killing was listed as gang related.

These murders took the toll to 358 for the year compared to 227 for the same period last year.

Jacob said he and his officers are “trying our best to reduce our numbers” but are hampered by the prevalence of high-powered weapons being used.

He said intelligence suggests that the guns are coming through the legal ports of entry.

Jacob said for this year so far 60 high-powered rifles were seized, and 61 were seized for all of 2021.

He said there are people in the US who have been arrested for sending guns to Trinidad and Tobago, dismissing the notion that the bulk of illegal guns come from Venezuela. He said he can confirm that 36 guns were sent to TT by people in Georgia, who were charged with sending it. Guns are also coming in from Miami, Jacob said.