Police have not been arresting residents from the Laventille area over the past few days because they are trying to foster a community relationship with them.
Speaking at the weekly press briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain yesterday, public information officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), Sgt Wayne Mystar, said the police have opted to use peaceful measures to deal with the Laventille protesters who have been setting fires and blocking roads with debris.
Residents of Laventille protested on Monday and Tuesday against what they said was a facade by the Minister of National Security Jack Warner over sustainable jobs through the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) which has been rebranded "People and Projects for Progress".
The residents blocked roads and burnt tyres, saying they were hoodwinked by Warner and all they wanted was sustainable employment and to have an increase in the $69 four-hour work day remuneration.
"In fostering that community relationship, sometimes we allow good sense to prevail and if we can deal with a situation right there and then we will do it. It is not in anyway that we would continue to use that soft approach all the time," Mystar said when asked about arresting residents who breach the law during their protests.
"There are times when we would deal with it in a meaningful way. The public must be mindful that they can't go about breaking the law," Mystar said.
Mystar stated that under section 64:1 of the Summary Offences Act, anyone caught throwing missiles, making bonfires and obstructing the free passage of any street is liable, upon conviction, to a fine of $200 or one month imprisonment.
"We are asking the public to please take note of offences that may be committed during peaceful demonstrations. Police are continuing their town meetings and will do their best to regain trust and are asking members of the communities to please be responsible for their actions and uphold the laws of the land," Mystar said, adding it was not a warning but a reminder to the residents.
He said those who wished to have public gatherings to address any issue should apply to do so to the Commissioner of Police under the Summary Offences Act 11:02, 40 hours to 14 days in advance.
Mystar said the police were considering using footage from television stations to bring to justice some of the protesters who were seen flouting the laws. He added that this has been done in the past and the TTPS was willing to do it again.