Over 20 specially outfitted armoured vehicles will arrive in Trinidad and Tobago soon to assist the country’s law enforcement in the fight against crime.
Sources say the vehicles — 20 armoured sports utility vehicles (SUV), along with 15 armoured personnel carriers (APC), are being outfitted with safety gear designed to withstand various forms of attack.
The vehicles will also have speciality equipment inclusive of GPS, gun ports and computerised systems, which will be linked to various national security agencies.
Sources told the Express that representatives from the Defence Force have visited the United States to view the vehicles, while National Security Minister Gary Griffith held talks with representatives from the United Kingdom.
The source told the Express, in choosing an APC, one needed to look at the size and make of the vehicle.
Such vehicles, the source said, needed to be road-worthy and should also allow for proper navigation into tracks within T&T.
The 20 SUVs, the source added, are just for the time being, citing that, following the arrival of this fleet, more will be on the way.
These SUVs will be used by specialised units within the Police Service, as well as task forces, while the APCs will be strictly for military use in “hotspot” areas.
The vehicles were purchased through the National Security Ministry and sources say advertisements for the procurement were not placed.
Sources within the security ministry say the ministry has the option of not going through the tendering process if the equipment needed is for an emergency.
The cost of the vehicles is estimated to be in the millions, sources say.
Contacted for a comment yesterday evening, Griffith admitted he is looking at acquiring the vehicles.
Asked whether the SUVs will be used by Government ministers, he denied this.
“The vehicles are not for Government officials. They are for law enforcement,” Griffith said.
He said private security companies use armoured vehicles and therefore the purchase of the vehicles by Government is “a precaution”.
“You put things in place to avoid things happening in the future.”
Asked whether security intelligence agencies had information that some sort of disturbance would take place in T&T, thus the decision taken to purchase them, Griffith said: “Of course not.”
He explained: “You can’t have law enforcement going into terrain with only bullet-proof vests and are exposed in vehicles.”
Adding that the vehicles will be used as protection for law enforcement agencies, mainly the police and Defence Force, Griffith said these agencies need to have the vehicles for extra protection “in the fight against crime”.
Stating that his job is not to come up with crime plans, Griffith said, ensuring that security agencies are well equipped and modernised to perform their duties is of paramount importance to him.
The National Security Minister said the APCs are fully armoured, tactical and “very military”, adding these vehicles will be used by the army and the national security operation group.
“The plan is to fight fire with fire and go into the ultimate hotspot areas and take the fight back to the so-called gang leaders who actually have the impression that certain areas and communities belong to them.
“We will be going in very hard with clinical precision with a special operation group,” Griffith said