CoP Gary Griffith, left, chats with DCP Intelligence and Investigations, McDonald Jacob during yesterday’s media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.

[email protected]

Six police officers from the Penal Police Station have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past month.

Southwestern Division police say these infections have occurred because migrants are being housed at police stations without being medically tested.

The officers have been calling since November last year, for a separate venue to be set up to house migrants.

In an interview with Guardian Media, a senior police source said for this year, over 50 officers from the division were sent on quarantine.

With the spread of cases in Penal, about 30 officers are still off work because of quarantine measures.

“We are very concerned because migrants are being kept in the Penal, Fyzabad, Santa Flora and Erin Police Stations without being medically tested,” the source claimed.

He noted that there have also been rampant breaches in COVID-19 protocols, particularly among officers.

Speaking at the police press briefing yesterday, ACP Wendell Williams, who is in charge of the Police Multi-sectoral COVID-19 Committee, confirmed that concerns had been raised about the housing of migrants in stations since late last year.

“There was an issue concerning a division that has some concerns about the continued detention of suspected prohibited migrants. The issue was raised as to finding a location, a compound, a building for which such persons can be held,” Williams said.

He added, “Since November we discussed that and the matter was again raised yesterday (Wednesday).”

He assured that the matter was being addressed.

“There is a commitment that in the shortest time, we will be mobilising a second location, particularly to serve the Southwestern and the Southern Divisions, with regard to the detention of persons. We know at times the heliport is filled and we have had spill over into the stations,” Williams said.

He commended the officers for continuing to process and detain migrants despite their constraints. Saying this showed a level of patriotism, Williams said he did not want any police officer to think that their issues were not being addressed.

“I want to appeal to the public at large and the police to be responsible. This is a national crisis. It is our responsibility to be patriotic. Divisional commanders must be aggressive in ensuring that all the initiatives that we put in place are carried out and supervised,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said any police officer who is seen flouting COVID-19 regulations will be ticketed. He urged members of the public to report any violations, noting that no one was above the law.