SAN FERNANDO Mayor Junia Regrello said yesterday the $1,000 ticket for failing to wear a mask in public that was issued to those who said they were socially displaced will be paid through the Mayor’s Fund.
During a meeting at City Hall, San Fernando, Regrello said his staff will get the relevant information on the six people who were ticketed last Saturday and will be in contact with them. “The Mayor’s office, through the Mayor’s Fund will take care of those six persons. We will pay for those six persons,” Regrello said.
He added that it will be a one-time payment of the fines, adding that while the issue was a sensitive one, “The law is the law, they have to adhere to the law.”
Last Saturday Anthony “Animal” Duncan and Leslie Marshall told the Express they were socially displaced. They were among others given public health fixed penalty notices for failing to wear a mask while in public.
ASP for the Criminal Investigations Department in the Southern Division, Ali Mohammed, yesterday said warnings were issued prior to the tickets being distributed. He said, “I think the officer who issued the ticket to him (Duncan) informed me up to last night that he spoke to him on three occasions … What would have triggered the ticket was that, while the officers were on patrol, persons who were leaving the hospital going towards probably their taxi stands would have informed the officers that these people coughing, some of them hacking, they were spitting. So I believe the officer would have acted. I would have acted in the same manner because, as the senior supt said, we have to protect not only the homeless but the population.”
He said since the tickets were issued, most of the socially displaced had been wearing their masks which he said they previously had in their possession.
Regrello said masks had been distributed to street dwellers by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the municipal police officers and also by the council of the San Fernando City Corporation. Approximately 60 more were distributed yesterday.
ASP Andrew John and Senior Superintendent Yusaf Gaffar who also attended the meeting, said the police had a duty of care and a responsibility to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19.
Duncan: I am homeless
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith on Sunday said initial reports he received stated that the men who were ticketed the previous day were not homeless. “The individuals have an address, they are gainfully employed. They were collecting funds from certain departments in the (United) States.”
Duncan however yesterday insisted to the Express that he lived on the streets and did not have an address. He said his wife had an apartment but he had been living on the streets for the past 26 years. Duncan added, “I get a little public assistance for the foot, it goes to the office.” He said he hustled at the market but added that he would be unable to pay the fine.
At the meeting, Regrello said there were those who chose to live on the streets. He added that two shelters had been provided in San Fernando for the street dwellers and 22 of them used the facilities located at King’s Wharf while there were others who did not avail themselves. He explained that the shelter on the wharf provided meals, shower facilities and a change of clothing. “We have a vehicle to pick them up take them there at nights and they refuse to go. We also have the Shamrock Court for them. They do not want to be in a disciplined, controlled environment and they are constantly being fed on the bandstand so they congregate there and sometimes some of them are a pest or a nuisance to the public,” he said.