ACTING Commissioner of Police (CoP) McDonald Jacob promised a full investigation into the shooting deaths, by police, of a man and two teenaged boys on Saturday in Port of Spain.
He was speaking to reporters at the Ministry of National Security in Port of Spain on Monday.
Isaiah Roberts, 17, Leonardo Niko Williams, 17, and Fabien Richards, 21, were returning from a Cocorite party on Saturday morning when they shot dead, reportedly in a shootout.
Jacob said he meet the families of the deceased men earlier on Monday.
“I interacted with them to give them the assurance that the police stand for the rule of law and the matter is under investigation by the senior supt, Mr Brandon John.
“At some stage, as the investigation goes along, the Professional Standards Bureau may be required to join in the investigation.
“And as you are all aware, the Police Complaints Authority has that overarching responsibility, in spite of the police investigation, to do an investigation and that is being conducted at this point in time.”
He said the police officers involved on Saturday were placed on desk duty pending investigations.
Jacob thanked those residents who heeded the police’s call to stand down their protests on Monday.
He said video footage of Saturday’s killings would help the investigation, but would not be shared with the public beforehand.
“There is in fact footage which was captured by our main operational centre and was evidence for the investigator. In fact, when these incidents are happening in some instances it is live-captured by our operational centre where our CCTV grid exists.”
Newsday asked about public confidence in the police after Saturday’s shootings and a forensic finding that police had accidentally shot dead PC Clarence Gilkes during a police exercise in Richplain, Diego Martin in April, Jacob said, “When these things happen there is pain throughout – pain in the family of the police service.”
He said officers suffer trauma, requiring counsellors and social workers, while families of their dead and their communities are pained too.
“I, as the acting commissioner, feel the pain. You will have sleepless nights when these things happen, because we need to come and deal with the population.
“We are here to serve the population. We are not to oppose the population.”
He extolled the great relationship between the police and Beetham residents, including police youth clubs, the Hearts and Minds programme, and a new steel orchestra.
“We work with that community constantly, not just in Beetham.
“We don’t want anything to happen to cut these relationships with the communities.”
Jacob also noted “another side to the story” of police officers under threat when on duty.
Replying to Newsday’s query, he said frontline police officers train adequately to handle their weapons, with visits to the shooting range.
Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, when asked by Newsday to react to 18 killings within the past 36 hours, said TT was becoming increasingly violent, with individuals accessing lethal weapons. He noted many government programmes as “positive pathways” for youths against criminal blandishments.