SHOW YOUR WEAPONS
By NALINEE SEELAL Monday, August 18 2014
In the aftermath of the discovery of 42 guns stolen from the ballistics room of the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) Minister of National Security Gary Griffith yesterday advised that effective immediately the police will do random checks at all private security firms and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that all weapons are accounted for.
Griffith, who returned to the country last Wednesday night following a series of meetings with US law enforcement agencies to partner in the fight against the importation of illegal drugs into this country and the Caribbean, said based on information received, the criminal elements are now finding it extremely difficult to secure illegal weapons because of the renewed agreement between this country and Venezuela and Colombia.
He said the theft of the guns from the FSC is a strong indication that the criminal elements will now be targeting other agencies in the country where guns are stored and he has decided that effective immediately, new measures will be put in place to prevent this from happening. He noted all private security firms will receive visits from police officers at random periods to display their records to ensure that all weapons are accounted for and that these weapons are not being rented out or are in the hands of persons who are using the guns for criminal activity. Griffith said he is not making accusations or pointing fingers at anyone but the time has reached to put certain measures in place to deal swiftly with any planned criminal activities. Asked by Newsday if the police will also be subjected to these checks the minister said that no one will be spared including the police themselves, the Defence Force and other law enforcement agencies where weapons are stored.
He noted that there were over 360 guns seized during the first six months of this year and those guns were seized based on information supplied by members of the public.
According to Griffith, now that these weapons are no longer in the hands of the criminals they are looking elsewhere to get more weapons into their hands and the target may just be the private security companies which are given permission to store and issue guns to security officers.
Apart from the inspection of records, private security firms will also be required to ensure that where their weapons are stored is in keeping with international practices.
There are about 500 private security companies in the country which will be subject to these random checks. Over the past few years there have been reports of guns stolen from security officers which have never been recovered. Two companies that have been robbed of a number of weapons are Sentinel Security Services and G4S Security, both located in Port-of-Spain.
Griffith is of the firm belief that the 42 guns stolen from the FSC will be recovered and said he had full faith that the team of officers probing the theft will get good results. All five ballistic experts at the FSC have already been interviewed by the team of officers probing the theft and the logbooks at the ballistics room bearing the information on all firearms at the FSC are to be handed over to officers today for inspection as part of the ongoing probe. The guns are believed to have been stolen between 2013 and June this year and they include handguns and high calibre weapons seized by police in raids and murder enquiries.