In a release issued on the weekend under the hand of Regiment PRO Captain Stefan Affonso, the Regiment emphasised that the daily threat to life and limb by criminals to both soldiers and police officers, while both on and off duty, is real and direct. Criminals are using controlled military uniforms, high-powered arms and ammunition against innocent law-abiding citizens and law enforcement officials, with often fatal consequences, Capt Affonso noted in the release. Soldiers and police officers have been shot at several times in the past while on Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) patrols and while not always highlighted in the media, these incidents are occurring more frequently in what can be considered traditional hot spot areas.
On at least four occasions, in the May-June period, IATF Patrols have encountered hostility.
On May 8, an IATF Foot patrol encountered gunfire in the vicinity of Block Eight, Laventille and had to radio for re-enforcement, the release stated.
This was followed by an attack on June 9 where police officers and soldiers were shot at while trying to remove debris during a routine patrol in the Cameron Hill, Petit Valley area. This led to a violent outburst of gunfire at the patrol resulting in a police officer being shot in the thigh. More recent attacks took place on June 20, where the joint patrol took cover after receiving heavy fire in the Canaan Hill area, Laventille, and June 21, where Cpl Williams, while off duty, was shot at while driving his vehicle in the vicinity of Picton Road, Laventille. A round from this indiscriminate fire, struck Cpl Williams in his knee.
In a shooting incident in the Cocorite area on June 19, it was reported that attacks were made by a group of persons, two wearing camouflage and five dressed in black. There were no scheduled joint patrols in that area and the persons were wearing camouflage illegally. Only military personnel are authorised to wear camouflage.
“These attacks by criminals will continue to be met with the minimum necessary force to protect the lives within the community, the lives of police and soldiers and the wider society,” the release stated. The Regiment will continue to support all arms of law enforcement in the fight against criminal elements in our communities and remains committed to the preservation of law and order and the protection and safety of all citizens. The Regiment also encourages citizens to use 800-TIPS to report persons in possession of illegal firearms as this is a proven method that is both confidential and safe. If you see something, say something.