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Griffith: Believe, have faith in Defence Force

Thursday, July 24 2014

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SECURE TALKS: Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, left, makes a point while National Security Minister Gary Griffith listens, during...
SECURE TALKS: Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, left, makes a point while National Security Minister Gary Griffith listens, during...

NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith is calling on the nation to “have faith and believe in the Defence Force.” He made this request at a press conference at the ministry’s Port-of-Spain office as he sought to ease concerns of the public with regard to security operations being conducted in East Port-of-Spain.

At the conference, Griffith was flanked by the Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj. Griffith said the role of the military is quite clear and the main echelon of defence against the criminal elements is the Police Service.

He also said complaints being highlighted in the media stem from criminal elements losing their grip on communities because of the focused operation by soldiers in East Port-of-Spain.

Griffith said complaints are part of “clandestine attempts at demonising the security forces” operating in the area. Major General Maharaj said the role of the military is to “aid civil power”, which is the Police Service.

Maharaj said the purpose of the military’s support is to complement ongoing police operations and divide labour effectively, particularly in the areas of surveillance and reconnaissance. Maharaj said all operations conducted by the military are sanctioned by the Chief of Defence Staff and are strictly to support police officers.

He assured that any action of the military forces done outside their function of support will be punished. He added that one cannot assume the military is acting independently simply because one sees a group of soldiers in an area without a police officer in the soldier’s direct vicinity.

Commissioner Williams reminded the public that any case of brutality, whether by police or soldiers, should be reported. The commissioner added that there have been no reports made to the police by residents that have complained to the media of brutality by the military forces.

Williams said the heightened presence of military and police was part of an exercise that has been ongoing since the beginning of the year which was designed to use both the TTPS and the Defence Force to focus on areas where police were facing the most challenges. Griffith said that the people of Laventille are pleased with the effect that the heightened presence of the armed forces has made. “This is the safest that Laventille has been in years. Now mothers can walk the streets with their children safely without being shot at and children are even playing in basketball courts and other areas where they could not before. The ministry of National Security is doing its job and it is the public’s job to support them,” Griffith said.

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