Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs had no prior knowledge of the plan to demolish the Highway Re-Route Movement's camp in Debe on Wednesday.
This was stated by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service yesterday.
The release from the Police Service's Public Affairs Unit stated: "At no time was the Commissioner of Police apprised or consulted that there would be the removal of the Highway Protest camp."
It further stated that the Assistant Commissioner of Police, South (Fitzroy Frederick) was contacted by National Security Minister Jack Warner around 5.30 a.m. requesting a police presence at the location, "and in the interest of keeping peace and maintaining order, four officers were sent to the location".
Speaking during yesterday's daily police press briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain, police public information officer, Sgt Wayne Mystar, said he could not shed any light on the reason why Gibbs was not contacted and why Warner instead directed his request to the Asst Commissioner in charge of South.
He declined to comment on whether Gibbs' authority was usurped by Warner, but added: "A request was made by the minister and he was within his right to make a request."
Mystar said reports in the media pointing to heavily armed police officers at the scene on Wednesday were not accurate as the heavily armed officers were members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF).
He said the police arrived at the scene some time after the soldiers and they removed one individual who was released shortly thereafter.
He added that any questions regarding the role the soldiers played in the demolition should be directed at Capt Al Alexander, public relations officer for the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF).
Asked yesterday if he would have had to report to Gibbs before deploying police officers to Debe on Wednesday, Frederick said: "Not necessarily. It depends on the situation."
Frederick said he had not yet received any report that Highway Re-Route Movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh had slapped a soldier as claimed by National Security Minister Jack Warner on Wednesday.
"Nobody reported to me yet. Up to this time, we haven't had any yet. We await the report," Frederick said.
He said Kublalsingh was detained by police officers on the scene "in his own interest. And so as not to perpetuate what was happening there, the police removed him from the scene".
Public relations officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, Warrant Officer Lester Hill, said Kublalsingh was not detained by soldiers, but by police officers.
Facebook images, however, show soldiers holding Kublalsingh and escorting him from the site.
Hill said: "Soldiers did not detain him. There were police officers there and what was happening, based on that were just assisting. But we did not detain him."
Hill said the soldiers did not take instructions from Warner, but from Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, and Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Colonel Anthony Phillips-Spencer.
Meanwhile, the People's National Movement (PNM) also added its voice yesterday on the issue of Gibbs not being contacted by Warner.
In a media release, the party stated: "The People's National Movement is appalled and greatly disturbed over the revelations that the Commissioner of Police had no prior knowledge of the demolition of a camp of protesters in South Trinidad on Wednesday morning under the supervision of the Minister of National Security.
"The PNM strongly condemns the action of the Minister of National Security for usurping the authority of the Commissioner of Police. The minister's action confirms the party's worst fears that such dastardly action paves the way for Trinidad and Tobago to become a police state."
The release further stated the party supported the call made by its political leader, Dr Keith Rowley, for the Prime Minister to publicly confirm her government's commitment to the observation and respect for the independence of the Office of the Commissioner of Police in all manners of law enforcement operations and more generally, the rule of law.
—with reporting by