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President Paula-Mae Weekes

Renuka Singh

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, already fatigued by State of Emergency duties and hurt by COVID-19 cases, will get some help from the reservists and T&T Defence Force volunteers.

In a proclamation yesterday, President Paula-Mae Weekes called out some 126 members of the Volunteer Defence Force (VDF) to boost police security service numbers.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday confirmed that it was National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds who requested the Presidential move. The call also comes just days after Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said that his officers were “tired.”

The call, Al-Rawi said, is simply to “amplify” the numbers of security personnel available during the SoE.

“It is the amplification of bodies available for the purposes of law enforcement. The SoE and the regulations published gave police powers to the members of the Defence Force, if the police requests joint operations,” Al-Rawi said.

“There has to be careful management, there are cases of COVID fatigue, stretching of resources et cetera and in those circumstances, the calling out of the reserves was a request of the Minister of National Security. It is basically to ensure that you have the manpower available for the management of the supervision of the laws under the SoE.”

According to the proclamation, the volunteers will assist “for a period of 92 days with effect from 1st June, 2021 to 31st August, 2021 to strengthen the T&T Defence Force capability towards the fulfilment of operational support to the T&T Police Service (TTPS) in the current state of public emergency.”

Political analyst Professor Dr Hamid Ghany yesterday said that the number of officers on duty from either or both the police service and the Defence Force may still be inadequate at this time for whatever reason.

“Furthermore, those inadequacies may fluctuate over the next three months and the Volunteer Reserve may bolster the numbers of police and Defence Force personnel available to provide support for tactical or logistical operations as may be required,” he said.

Ghany noted that this proclamation lasts until August 31, in this instance, whereas the SoE lasts until August 29 “unless further extended.”