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Cops: No new instructions despite ‘Amber alert’

By Susan Mohammed susan.mohammed@trinidadexpress.com

National Security Minister Gary Griffith’s decision to increase the National Alert State to “amber”, as a result of the murder of attorney Dana Seetahal, has come as a surprise to police officers. 

The Express was told that since Sunday’s announcement by Griffith,  police officers have not received any specific instructions from the ministry on a different mode of operation, or duties. 

“We know that there was a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday so there were measures that would have been discussed. But as yet there have been no new instructions reaching the police stations,” said a police inspector. 

And while police officers were unable to explain what the increase to “amber” meant, the system has been in existence since last December.

In a media release posted on the Ministry of National Security’s Facebook page, the National Alert State was explained.

The release stated: “The NAS (National Alert State) allows conditions to be established for all security agencies to respond in a timely, appropriate and coordinated manner to a threat affecting national security, initiating rapid, effective and efficient deployment of resources to mitigate the defined threat.” 

The release stated that following the killing of Seetahal, Griffith “has launched all-out operations to ensure that these perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice”. 

The release said that the elevation of the NAS to amber was in keeping with the guidelines laid out in the National Alert State, Public Warning and Information Policy, which was approved in December 2013. 

“The significance of implementing this state of alert was to stymie any possible threat to national security. This was assessed as a precautionary measure. In this regard, security agencies were informed to take measures against plausible risk of a hazard or threat, including the use of means that are moderately disruptive to normal public activities, while preparing to switch to ‘orange’ or ‘red’ on short notice, if the conditions surrounding the threat changed,” the release stated. 

The statement said further that all relevant groups were alerted via a secured Group Alert System, and all members of the population were informed via the use of a Popular Alert System (PAS), media releases and broadcasts. 

“The national security agency responsible for coordination of national operations, the National Operations Centre (NOC), has advised the Minister of National Security to inform the National Security Council of the need for an elevated state of alert. This was done to ensure law enforcement and other arms of the Ministry of National Security have an opportunity to apply all necessary contingencies for an escalated alert state, pertinent to the threat,” the statement added.

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