Chief Secretary wants special police units in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Relatives, villagers and curious onlookers behind a caution tape at Jaegers Hall Trace in Plymouth on May 9 after Nikesha Sandy, 29, was gunned down. – Photo courtesy Visuals Style

THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is working with the Ministry of National Security to boost police presence on the island.

This was revealed by THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine as he spoke via a Facebook live mere hours after the island recorded its 8th murder on May 9.

As he expressed condolences to the family of murder victim Nikesha Sandy, who was gunned down in Plymouth, Augustine said three of his executive members from the Plymouth area – Assemblyman Zorisha Hackett, Assemblyman Niall George and Councillor Certica Orr – have visited the relatives.

“One of the things they said to me as I recall part of that conversation – this is not Tobago; we don’t want any other family to experience the pain we feel now. This is not the Tobago that we know – and where are these guns coming from?”

He said guns are not manufactured in Tobago nor in Trinidad, as he bemoaned the country’s porous border.

He said while the THA does not have direct responsibly for crime and security on the island, last month he met with the Minister of National Security along with the Commissioner of Police, representatives from the Defence Force, permanent secretaries from the Ministry of National Security and Assistant Commissioner of Police Tobago Collis Hazel.

He said, in this meeting, he pledged support, including financial.

“I’ve spoken to you already about how the THA is working with the TTPS in ramping up policing on the island and increasing and improving their work flow with the provision of vehicles and accommodation.

“We are working to accommodate some more special teams on the island in a much more permanent fashion. We are doing that as we speak because we would appreciate that there are some specialist departments within the TTPS – GEB (guard and emergency branch) and IATF (inter agency task force) – that are not permanently present on the island.

“So we’re working to have some of those operate from the island so that the levels of policing can be improved.”

He called on everyone to be their brother’s keeper especially in getting illegal firearms off the streets.

“I am very much certain that there are residents in communities who are very much aware of what’s happening, who know of individuals who have guns that they should not have, that are illegal.

“You are the one who should be our eyes and our ears, you are the one who must pick up the telephone and anonymously call the relevant authorities and make those reports. You must ensure that in your homes if you know you have a son involved in such activity, you have to correct that.”

At a video conference streamed live on Facebook, Minority Leader Kelvon Morris called for justice.

“It cannot be that we as an island would continue to have our brothers’ and sisters’ lives taken away and those who would have inflicted such a heinous crime, continue to walk amongst us.

“And in calling for justice, I am calling on each of us – it cannot simply be that we blame the central government, it cannot simply be that we blame the minister of national security, it cannot simply be that we blame the THA, it cannot simply be that we blame the police service.

“Crime starts with each and everyone of us, and in a small society like Tobago where everyone knows each other, it is unacceptable that persons are committing heinous crime and return to a place of safety. I am saying that nowhere in Tobago should be safe to anyone who is determined to make a way of life out of crime.”

He said the minority is willing to work with anyone, including the THA executive, to come up with tangible crime fighting measures to preserve and protect the lives of Tobagonians.