As the debate rages on zesser fetes in public versus parties at private residences once again, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith is sticking to his guns regarding the T&T Police Service’s ability to enforce the COVID-19 regulations on private and public property.
His stance came yesterday as the public continued to weigh in on the police’s decision to arrest 250 people during a raid on a zesser party in Caroni on Sunday morning, while a wedding in Valsayn with guests also breaching the stipulated limit occurred with no such action being taken by police.
This led some in the national community accusing the police of bias in executing their function as it relates to the regulations.
But speaking on SLAM 100.5 FM yesterday, Commissioner Griffith explained that once an event takes place in an enclosed setting and the guests are invited, it is considered to be private. However, he said if people are charged money to enter then that same location becomes public. He said he expects that people will soon begin to explore the loopholes in the regulations.
“There are different tricks to the trade. The next thing they would want to try is, we not charging, we asking you to put a donation …,” Griffith told host Ancil “Blaze” Isaac.
As it relates to events similar to the Valsayn wedding over the weekend, the top cop maintained that his hands are tied as to how much action he can take on such activities, if any at all.
“So is if it is I know that there is a private home and there are family members and fifty or a hundred family members are all in one specific area, what we can do is have roadblocks outside, we could have DUIs, we can look at EMA regulations, but we cannot be involved,” Griffith said.
A similar debate occurred in September when police raided a zesser fete in Sea Lots but took no action when they were called to a pool party at Bayside Towers in Cocorite. On that occasion, Griffith also defended his officers’ action, saying they could not charge the individuals involved in the pool party due to the loophole in the COVID regulations on what they could do regarding infractions of the regulations on private properties.
Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, the TTPS gave further details on the action it took after arresting the individuals at the zesser fete.
“Because of the possibility of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a decision has been taken to charge more than 250 persons found at a zesser party on Sunday morning by way of summons rather than keep them in cells at police stations,” the release said.
According to Head of the Central Division, Senior Superintendent Curt Simon, the division took into consideration the personal safety of all
involved, including the police officers.
“The Central Division is very responsible when it comes to maintaining law and order and preventing and reducing disorder,” Simon said.
“This will ensure that the health of the police and the court community will remain intact and unobscured. This is expected to be an arduous
task that will take at least a week to complete.”
Several units of the TTPS, including SORT, MOPS and the Anti-Gang Unit, raised a warehouse at Kelly Village, Caroni, on Sunday morning and arrested some 250 people at the zesser party. Griffith revealed yesterday that there were many minors among the partygoers.