Trinidad: Police to monitor social media activity in 2020

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Trinidad: Police to monitor social media activity in 2020
Gary Griffith
Gary Griffith

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — In 2020 the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) will cre­ate a cen­tre with the ca­pac­i­ty to mon­i­tor and analyse so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­i­ty via the use of sur­veil­lance sys­tems, and the TTPS will al­so get the Ar­moured Per­son­nel Car­ri­ers which Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith had ad­vo­cat­ed since he was the Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter un­der the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship regime.

This and oth­er in­for­ma­tion on TTPS’ plans for 2020 are con­tained in the 2020 Pub­lic Sec­tor In­vest­ment plan (PSIP) and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme.

These re­ports were part of 2020 Bud­get doc­u­ments laid in Par­lia­ment on Mon­day.

The TTPS re­ceived ap­prox­i­mate­ly $2.6B in the 2020 Bud­get – an in­crease from $2.2b in 2019.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith speaks to members of the media (file photo)

Po­lice of­fi­cers said yes­ter­day such an ini­tia­tive like a so­cial me­dia analy­sis cen­tre has the po­ten­tial to great­ly as­sist TTPS sys­tems, pro­vid­ing ma­te­r­i­al on a wide range of is­sues from in­ci­dents of crime and ter­ror­ism to cross bor­der is­sues con­tribut­ing to crime.

In 2020 TTPS will be ex­pand­ing its fleet from 1,668 to 1,900 ve­hi­cles.

The PSIP stat­ed, “This in­creased mo­bil­i­ty will im­prove TTPS’ ef­fi­cien­cy and ef­fec­tive­ness by im­prov­ing the lev­el of ser­vice pro­vid­ed to cit­i­zens, in­creased po­lice vis­i­bil­i­ty na­tion­wide and im­proved op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ty through­out the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

“An al­lo­ca­tion of $30 mil­lion will as­sist TTPS in pur­chas­ing the fol­low­ing types of ve­hi­cles: Sport Util­i­ty Sedan, Ar­moured Per­son­nel Car­ri­er (APC), and Sport Util­i­ty Ve­hi­cle (SUV).

Grif­fith had ad­vo­cat­ed the use of APCs since 2014 when he was the PP Gov­ern­ment’s Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter. APCs are built to trans­port pro­tec­tive ser­vices/troops and are geared for self-de­fence and to pro­tect pas­sen­gers from small-arms fire or shrap­nel.

As Min­is­ter, Grif­fith sparked con­tro­ver­sy in 2014 when he said six APCs were be­ing pur­chased to add to sim­i­lar car­ri­ers the De­fence Force pre­vi­ous­ly had. He said the APCs would be used for sit­u­a­tions in­clud­ing counter-ter­ror­ism ac­tiv­i­ty or bomb­in­gs, ex­plo­sive de­vices or hostages. He al­so planned to or­der 20 ar­moured ve­hi­cles, sim­i­lar to Sports Util­i­ty Ve­hi­cles (SU­Vs) with bul­let-proof glass were al­so be­ing ac­quired. It was es­ti­mat­ed one ve­hi­cle would have cost around $1 mil­li­on.

Grif­fith had said po­lice had come un­der gun­fire, with cars be­ing rid­dled with bul­lets and he’d said on­ly crim­i­nals should fear APCs. He not­ed APCs were used by Cana­di­an au­thor­i­ties in the Oc­to­ber in­ci­dent when Cana­da’s Par­lia­ment was at­tacked.

At the time then PNM PRO Faris Al-Rawi (now At­tor­ney Gen­er­al) had said the PNM was con­cerned as to “the mind and man­age­ment of na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty op­er­a­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly in view of the cat­a­stroph­ic de­tec­tion and con­vic­tion rate” and called on the PP to ad­dress par­tic­u­lars of na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty as­sets.

Af­ter the PNM took of­fice, in May 2015, a spe­cial eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee re­viewed the APC ac­qui­si­tion process and for­mer Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Ed­mund Dil­lon said there’d been prob­lems with the ini­tial pro­cure­ment and APCs wouldn’t be ap­pro­pri­ate in ar­eas of TT. Grif­fith- then out of of­fice – ac­cused Dil­lon of hav­ing an “agen­da” of dis­man­tling ini­tia­tives of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. Dil­lon was re­placed by Stu­art Young as NS Min­is­ter in 2019 when Grif­fith was ap­point­ed Com­mis­sion­er.

Mean­while, Bud­get plans in­clude the up­grade of se­cu­ri­ty screen­ing equip­ment at Pi­ar­co and To­ba­go air­ports for the ca­pa­bil­i­ty of au­to­mat­ic ex­plo­sives de­tec­tion.

The TTPS was al­so al­lo­cat­ed $25m for Mo­bile De­vice Track­ing Sys­tems and pur­chase of Pub­lic Or­der Equip­ment in­clud­ing con­duc­tive en­er­gy de­vices (tasers), can­is­ter grenades, sock bean bags, launch­ers and pro­jec­tiles, seed pod launch­ers and rub­ber ba­tons, rub­ber pel­let grenades, pep­per spray and ri­ot gear kits – hel­mets, arm and chest shields and leg pro­tec­tion gear).

Fund­ing al­so in­clud­ed $1.5m for re­fur­bish­ing the Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er’s res­i­dence and $2m to re­fur­bish Po­lice Head­quar­ters.

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