ALL police officers working in the south-western peninsula (Icacos, Erin, Cedros and La Brea) will be polygraphed, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith said yesterday as the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) moves to curb the entry of illegal guns, drugs and migrants.
Griffith told the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security that the polygraphing is to begin for officers in the South-Western Division.
He said those who indicated they were not prepared to be polygraphed were immediately reassigned.
Furthermore, Griffith said there will be a strengthening of the police presence in the south-western peninsula.
Griffith, who appeared before the JSC yesterday, was asked by JSC member Dr Roodal Moonilal what measures he had taken to deal with the infiltration of migrants/refugees from Venezuela.
“We are aware that there is a clear and present danger with what is happening on the mainland, and we would be deploying personnel from other areas to these areas where there is a greater concern, and that is being done by the first of February, in a few days. So we will be deploying troops, both covert and overt...in order to ensure that we have that border secured,” he said.
Saying the security of the borders from drugs, guns and illegal immigrants was not an issue only for the Coast Guard, Griffith said: “I have heard for far too long the concerns about the TTPS being part and parcel of the problem; people claim that everyone knows where the drugs and weapons are coming from and it means that the police are involved.”
The CoP said what he did was to have the police officers in the south-western peninsula answer a simple question in the polygraphing process: “Are you involved in aiding and abetting illegal activity involving drugs and ammunition entering the country? Do you get any remuneration by allowing illegal activity to take place?”
He said those who indicated they were not prepared to be polygraphed were immediately reassigned while the others will be polygraphed.
Griffith said while he could use the issue of polygraphing to reshuffle and reassign, he could not use it to fire anyone.
Drones from Toys ‘R’ Us?
Reiterating his commitment to ensuring proper protection of the border, Griffith said: “I can put my head on a block that police officers who are stationed there (south-western peninsula) are doing their job.”
Griffith said the police also intended to use air surveillance.
He said the air unit would be complemented by high-tech drones which would monitor the south-western peninsula on a 24/7 basis with real-time video footage, which would go into the National Operations Centre.
He said the drones which the TTPS previously used were just “a little higher standard than what you would get at Toys ‘R’ Us”.
“We need to move with the times,” he said, adding the new drones would be able go out for several hours, turn night into day, lock onto vehicles and vessels and monitor the peninsula while providing real-time video footage.
“And this will be done within a few days,” he said.
He added that helicopters were also needed to ensure an immediate movement of troops, in the event there is a “volatile situation”.
He said because of costs, helicopters will have to be sourced for the entire national security apparatus, and the Minister of National Security was dealing with this matter.
The CoP said there has been regular communication with the other arms of law enforcement, including the Strategic Services Agency, Defence Force and Radar Centre, “so that one hand knows what the other is doing...so that we can have that maritime security wall involving the TTPS, Defence Force, Customs and Immigration”.