Residents of the Brasso district fear that history will be repeated as its local police station faces repurposing by the TTPS.
According to 38-year-old business owner, Sharen Badal-Ahyew, news of the plan struck residents with a familiar sense of panic, many questioning how they would escape a rising criminal presence in the area.
A release issued by the TTPS on November 11 indicated that officers stationed at Brasso were to be relocated to the Gran Couva Police Station within two weeks. The former premises are set to be occupied by other agencies within the TTPS in an attempt to adapt to 21st century policing.
“Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, and Senior Superintendent of Police, Central Division, Curt Simon, believes the change will facilitate a more efficient use of resources, resulting in an increased police presence and greater investigative capacity for both districts,” it said.
However, Badal-Ahyew, who lived through the station’s closure in 1999, says the move will instead thrust the community into the past, creating an environment of lawlessness and distrust that was previously experienced by residents.
A 12-year reign of terror brought about the previous closure, she said, was only repaired by its reopening in 2012 after which criminal activity significantly reduced.
Once herself a victim of home invasion, she told the Express that businesses and residents have gone into retreat since the announcement, fearing a surge in crimes witnessed in the past such as robbery, kidnappings and murder.
“In 2001, I left my home with my husband. When we came home every single thing we had in our house was gone. They took everything that we worked hard in our lives to buy. We had about $80,000 in damages and what they couldn’t take, they left outside. That is not even the worst.”
“If you speak with the people of Brasso, they will tell you about the times robbers tied up and beat a pregnant store owner. They will tell you about the time an eight year old was kidnapped, her parents tied and beaten while they took her to a nearby cemetery, They will tell you about the Agro-shop owner who was beaten so badly there are scars on his body and the many farmers whose entire produce was stolen. It was ongoing and it was terror and without the criminals knowing that they can be caught at any moment, we have no doubt it will return to this.” she said.
As a result, she said, the sudden announcement of repurposing and the lack of public consultation, was seen as hurtful by many. She added that it presented several logistical questions that remain unanswered by the TTPS.
One such issue, she said, is the lack of commute between Brasso and Gran Couva. To make reports, she said, residents would have to take at least four taxis to gain access.
“They opened the building, gave us a tour. We were at peace. Now we all know what is going to happen and there is apparently nothing we can do to stop it. How could the Commissioner on the advice of this superintendent who does not understand the issues at play here, make this move without ever asking the people of Brasso? One of the things they are not even mentioning is how far we would have to go to even get to that station. There are currently no taxis that take that route so you would have to go through Chaguanas and other routes with at least four taxis” she said.
Residents have since taken to social media to voice their concerns about how the move would affect them. A post made to the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths Facebook page questioned how operations would continue
“This is highly advised to reconsider due to the amount of communities that the Brasso police station serves. Without an active station from Rio Claro to Chaguanas, it is putting all the villagers at risk. We know that they said the decision was made but please think about it and reconsider,” wrote one commentor.
Another wrote, “Brasso Police Station services a large geographical area which comprises the villages of Tabaquite, Brasso, Flanagin Town, Los Attajos, Brasso Piedra, Mamoral 1 & Mamoral 2, Caparo, Todds Road. Logistically, one partially working vehicle and police officers definitely cannot service our district and their visibility still deters crime. It's unfair to us as citizens to relocate them to Gran Couva where they will traverse very deplorable roads to respond to our distress. The service will have to spend more on maintenance of vehicles.”
Requests have since been made for Griffith to visit the area and speak with villagers. However, these requests were declined.
Badal-Ahyew said that following public outcry on the situation a forum was held last week Thursday at the station’s grounds. Business owners she said, were not invited.
The Express was told that senior superintendent Curt Simon attempted to answer questions raised by residents. He assured that a relocation would mean greater patrols in the area. He added that two units of the TTPS were to be placed at the former premises but declined to comment on which units these were.