PORT OF SPAIN –– Minister of National Security Gary Griffith says law-abiding citizens should not see the procurement of specially outfitted armoured vehicles as a threat, but rather as the country’s national security mechanisms at work. This was the message sent via a news release from the ministry yesterday in which Griffith defended the purchase of armoured vehicles in the fight against crime.
According to Griffith, these assets are not outfitted with aggressive weaponry and will not be operated in an offensive mode, but rather to protect the hardworking members of the Defence Force and law enforcement agencies who are working to protect the citizenry.
“The minister reiterates that the only persons who should see these assets as intimidating are those operating on the wrong side of the law. The acquisition of these vehicles is all part of the unified effort of delivery on the mandate of the Government to restore Trinidad and Tobago to a safer and more secured nation for all its citizens,” the release stated.
The release also said the vehicles would strengthen the work of the T&T Defence Force and the T&T Police Service so as to give them the best possible chance in their law enforcement efforts. It was also explained that armoured cars were not new to this country and that in the past the Regiment had operated similar vehicles. However, it was noted that the Defence Force had not been able to acquire these types of vehicles in over 20 years, and were instead utilizing normal civilian vehicles to perform the duties expected of the Defence Force.
According to the release, “[Minister] Griffith stated that modern-day law enforcement is evolving at a rapid rate to treat with threats which may not have existed decades ago. Due to the transnational nature of crime, there is now more than ever a need to restructure and realign T&T’s National Security apparatus as the present capacity of our Defence Force and law enforcement agencies does not cater for these new threats”.
The minister said while there were currently no intelligence reports of any existing disturbances or pending threats to this country, he was ensuring that the ministry was putting the appropriate precautionary measures in place to deal with any future eventuality because “it is better for this country to be prepared for any probability now rather than sit and wait for innocent lives to be lost . . . . This country must be committed, we must be prepared and we will be prepared”.
Griffith said: “For far too long previous ministers of National Security have been accused of not doing enough and he is willing to run the risk of being accused of doing too much to secure our people’s right to life and property.”
The release stated that the vehicles represented a new generation of law enforcement practice as they could be configured in various models to support the police, the military and counter-terrorism units in whatever terrain they needed to operate. The vehicles, the release said, were even being used in neighbouring Caribbean nations such as Guyana and Jamaica.
“They will offer maximum protection against various large calibres of weapons for the soldiers and officers of the police service who will be operating them in high-risk areas. These vehicles are built to withstand ballistic attack and provide advanced protection against anti-personnel mines and grenade blasts. It combines the speed, manoeuvrability and weapons platform options required for roles ranging from command and control and military tactical operations to SWAT, riot control, counter terrorism and counter surveillance.
“The purchase of these and other vehicles and equipment to be used by our law enforcement agencies, should act as a deterrent and would be sending a strong message to criminals to be aware that picking a fight with law enforcement and security personnel is not a fight that they would want to undertake,” the release stated.