Top Cop responds to questions regarding health regulations enforcement

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    (File photo)

    Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says the arrest of 32 persons in Valsayn last month was legal since the event being held was open to the public.

    He has also responded to other recent questions regarding the TTPS’ enforcement of the public health ordinance regulations.

    The following is the Top Cop’s full statement:

    The Commissioner of Police has noted the continued public engagement and lack of clarity as it relates to the assembly of more than five persons in private spaces versus public spaces. The commentary on such matters, as understandable as it may be, has led to a number of inaccurate statements making its way into the public domain questioning the actions of the TTPS in its management of the Public Health Ordinance, inclusive of Judy Raymond of the Newsday, where for the 18th consecutive time, she has written a negative editorial on the TTPS, as she alludes now that the Police is at fault for enforcing laws that are drafted, and should also be taking actions in incidents when we have no authority to do so.

    As such, we are again, forced to provide fact based information, so as to provide clarity on such matters:

    1) Bar owners are now querying that their bars are also private property and hence can be utilized to distribute and consume alcohol behind closed doors. This is in breach of the regulations, as it is still allowing customers access to purchase and consume alcohol, which negates the concept of being private property.

    2) The TTPS release on April 11th is clear and not contradictory. In the first instance, it referred to banks and supermarkets, which were open to the public hence giving police the authorization to close them or disperse the customers if lives were at stake. The statement never stated about having authority to arrest. This however, is totally different to private property, which cannot be “shut down”, but as stated later on in that same release, even if unable to arrest anyone, we can find other means to deter such activities, such as breach of Section 51 of the EMA Act (noise), and setting up road blocks or DUI tests outside these premises after the event. The police did the exact thing via warning the individuals and asking them to disperse.

    3) As it pertains to the claims related to an event at Valsayn, be advised a warrant was issued giving police authorization to enter in the search for illegal weapons. There were several persons at that event, inside and outside that house, and the venue was rented for the event, with reports of there also having a cover charge. This event was open to the public, hence breaching the Public Health Regulations. Thirty-two persons were charged with breaching the Public Health Regulations and the matter is before the court.

    4) As it pertains to the incident at Sea Lots, and the subsequent action taken, be advised, when police arrived many persons present at that incident started running to escape and several were found hiding in different areas. Additionally, a law was broken. Again to reiterate, none were arrested. In the Bayside incident, no law was being broken and no one was trying to escape, so on what grounds would they be asked to lie on the floor or for the incident to be recorded? 5) As confirmed by the Attorney General, at many other residential areas or gated communities, the Police similarly only warned the residents, and interestingly enough, not one of these such incidents ever made the front page of any daily newspaper.

    6) As it relates to the specific Bayside event, based on Police reports, and not newspaper articles, there were several persons in or around the pool at Bayside when police arrived, with these guests of the residents scattered around the pool, and not the 40 as being claimed. In fact, the video being shown of a handful around the pool was recorded before the police arrived. Further, as it pertains to claims of the TTPS not wanting to ‘touch’ certain perceived ‘classes’ within society, please note, apart from the organisers of the event, who would be questioned as this investigation continues, all the other patrons were non-nationals. Why would the TTPS seek to be bias or give preferential treatment to nonnationals when hundreds continue to be arrested on varying matters?

    7) The Police simply enforces the law. The regulations are clear and in contrast to what some are alluding to, police officers cannot and do not work on arresting some and not arresting others based on their skin complexion. This is based solely on what authority we have, which is in a public space. In Bayside, it is not a public space and even the pool area is not accessible to the public so as much as many demand that the police arrest persons based on perceptions of bias for or against, it is simply that the present Regulations do not give us authority to do it. All be it that these individuals were operating in a reckless and stupid manner. But as stated previously, we cannot police stupidity or charge someone based on stupidity or being reckless.

    8) To confirm, in contrast to many who are making assumptions based on emotion rather than the facts, the TTPS cannot go witch hunting to arrest people or turn a blind eye to release anyone based on their ethnic composition. It solely has to be done whether a law is broken or not. In this latest incident, the TTPS cannot arrest persons on private property even if they assemble in numbers larger than five, as the Regulations did not give us such authority. However, please note, the TTPS has acquired certain information and would be interviewing persons in this irresponsible action to assist us in enquiries in far greater matters than assembling in a group of more than five.

    Anyone who has information on the whereabouts of these persons, please contact the police at 999, 555, the Police App or WhatsApp 482-GARY.