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‘Flexible security key to crowd control’

By Gyasi Gonzales gyasi.gonzales@trinidadexpress.com

BEHIND the scenes of this year’s Carnival, there was constant communicatio n between mas bands, the police, Defence Force and the National Operations Centre (NOC), who used their areal vantage point to monitor crowd movement and call for changes if necessary.
According to NOC com­man­­der Garvin Hee­rah, their ability to be flexible, in terms of planning their operations, saw their deployment of for-
ces quickly shifted from downtown Port of Spain as the crowds and bands migrated to the west of the capital.
Acting Commissioner of Po­lice Stephen Willi­ams; Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen­eral Kenrick Maharaj; Hee­rah; second in command at the NOC, former deputy commissioner of Police Mer­vyn Ri­chardson; and ACP Earl Gonzales all addressed the me­dia yesterday during a post-Car­nival media briefing at Police Headquarters, Port of Spain.
They all thanked the Trinidad and Tobago public for making their lives easier during the Carnival weekend and Monday and Tuesday.
They also reported 251 people were arrested over the four-day period for various offen­ces, name­ly, the open consumption of illegal narcotics, fighting and using obscene lan­guage to the annoyance of oth­er persons.
CoP Williams added he wished to thank the motoring public, citing a low accident figure of 12, which was a small number, given the large amount of cars on the road over the two-day period, as well as a reduction of motorists failing the breathalyser tests conducted randomly.
The Express asked about what appeared to be a shift in population from downtown Port of Spain to its suburbs as it appeared the majority of both revellers and spectators were in the Woodbrook, Newtown, St James and Mucurapo areas.
Hee­rah replied they had flexibility in their favour, as well as a plan that considered such a scenario.
He explained because of the constant flow of information among all stakeholders, the State’s limited security resour­ces were able to be deployed effectively and effi­ciently wherever they were needed, and this was done.
CDS Maharaj also added besides a shift in resources where it was needed, they had a further contingency plan in the form of a rapid-reaction force, comprising of soldiers based at Camp Ogden in Long Circular, St James.
“I can tell you as a soldier, we had the means to deal with the surge of people in the West,” he said.
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