Hinds: More police patrols after Harpe Place murders

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. – File photo courtesy Office of the Parliament

NATIONAL Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has said a heightened police presence is on the ground at Harpe Place, Port of Spain, after five people were killed in a gang attack there on March 16.

He made this statement in response to a question from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal in the House of Representatives on March 18.

Dead are police sergeant Larry Phillip, Rudolph James, Randy Graves, Pete Noray, and Devon Jack. Three others – Richard Pierre, Wendell Primus, and Akina Thomas – were injured and hospitalised.

In the aftermath of the murders, police and soldiers were sent to the area. Angry residents hurled abuse at them and put up a barrier to prevent people from entering Harpe Place.

Hinds told MPs that after the incident, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher ordered an intensification of static, mobile and foot patrols in the area.

He added that the police Victim Support Unit is providing counselling for residents traumatised by the incident.

Hinds reiterated his description of the incident as horrendous and very violent.

“There are several strands to this problem,” he said, and the Government has been tackling this type of crime in different ways.

He identified the boosting of Trinidad and Tobago’s co-operation with its international partners as one of them.

“We have found that the majority of the weapons that contribute to this sort of thing are coming from the US.”

The US government, Hinds continued, has been working with local law-enforcement agencies to deal with the inflow of illegal guns.

He said Government has received equipment such as ballistic testing technology from international agencies to assist law enforcement in tracking down the perpetrators of gun crimes.

Hinds identified the Gang Reduction and Community Project (GRACE) as one of several initiatives the Government is undertaking to make communities more resilient and stamp out crime there.

He said the situation is not helped by people trying to score cheap political points from tragedies like what happened at Harpe Place on March 16.

Moonilal asked Hinds if he would visit Harpe Place to reassure residents there would be justice for the people who were murdered.

Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George disallowed Moonilal’s question. She said in relation to his earlier question to Hinds and the answer Hinds provided, this new question was out of order and not in accordance with the House’s standing orders.