Police have not launched a war against the Laventille community, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams has said.
He said though that criminal elements who hide among law-abiding residents of Laventille should be worried.
Speaking with reporters during the weekly police news conference at Police Headquarters, Port of Spain, Williams assured they “consider the majority of persons living in the broader Laventille community to be law-abiding citizens and in that context, we would not consider the issue of launching any war against the Laventille community”.
He was asked to comment on police shootings which led to the deaths of a number of young men in the Morvant, east Port of Spain, Laventille and San Juan communities in the last two weeks.
Friends and relatives of the dead men claim they were innocent. Some of the relatives and associates of the men rioted, calling the police action brutal.
But police maintain they were fired upon first and had no choice but to return fire.
The last incident was the shooting death of Kishawn Daniel who was killed last week Saturday in east Port of Spain.
Williams said, “One needs to understand there are criminal elements within the Laventille community. Those persons are in the minority and it is critical for the Police Service to continue to be tough on those individuals because they are causing hurt and pain to the citizens of the broad Laventille community and the citizens of this country. They are impacting in a negative way by way of their actions and the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) will continue to pursue those individuals with a clear intention to prosecute them with any of the criminal offences that they may commit. But there is no war.”
Williams continued, “Criminals cannot have the upper hand on innocent citizens in this land because the reason you have a Police Service is for us to be out there providing the level of security and the protection that is necessary for the law-abiding citizens to function within a democracy. The Police Service will continue to confront any criminal anywhere across Trinidad and Tobago and that’s the position of the organisation and we are not retreating from that.”
The TTPS also pursued an initiative with young people of the St Barb’s community in an initiative called “Youths for a Better Tomorrow”.
It is an initiative generated through the call for help by the young people within the St Barb’s community and has grown from 60 people to 78, most of them teens, Williams said.