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Griffith: Lawmen can enter homes to stop Covid-19 parties, three held for hanging dog

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has warned citizens that lawmen have the authority to enter their homes without warrants, through section 133 of the Public Health Ordinance.

The clause, according to Griffith, gives police to right to ‘enter any land or building to save lives’. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) intends to use that regulation to break-up suspected ‘Covid-19 parties’.

Photo: Persons held under the Public Health (2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-Cov) Regulations at the Alicia’s Guest House in Cascade on 10 April 2020.
(via TTPS)

Section 133 states: ‘For the purposes of this part of this ordinance, any person authorised to act under the provisions […] may at any time, with or without assistance, (a) enter on lands and buildings and inspect and examine the same and all things thereon or therein’.

“As was stated by commissioner Griffith a few weeks ago, when there was discussion about the police temporarily closing business establishments, inclusive of banks and supermarkets,” stated a TTPS release today, “if they did not adhere to the requirements as stated by the TTPS and the government—which included social distancing of their customers awaiting entry into their premises—the TTPS indeed has a right to so do, via Section 133 of the Public Health Ordinance, giving the authority to enter any land or building and do what is necessary to save lives.

“[…] In the same manner that bank and supermarket representatives understood the authority that the Police have, and they adhered to what is required, the COP is humbly asking all responsible citizens not to be baited with the false perception that they can do as they please during this period, based on the fact that it is in their private home.”

Griffith said options available to the police at present include:

  • Public Health Ordinance, section 133: Giving police right to power at that time to enter any land or building to save lives;
  • Public Nuisance, section 70 of the Summary Offences Act, chapter 11.02;
  • Based on neighbours sending complaints to the Police of excess noise, the TTPS can intervene and stop such events due to noise pollution, contrary to the EMA Act, section 51.

The TTPS can otherwise utilise Summary Courts Act, chapter 4.20, section 41, should they become aware of illegal activities on private property and can ‘acquire a warrant and would do so and get it in minutes’ to ‘raid the said premises’.

Photo: Police have detailed three men from Embacadere, San Fernando for allegedly hanging a dog.

In other news, Senior Superintendent Wayne Mohammed, head of the Southern Division, today led an operation resulting in the detention of three men—aged 20, 24 and 32—for alleged animal cruelty, after ‘a video went viral showing one of the men hanging his dog from a tree’.

The investigation was ordered by Griffith. The three men were arrested in Embacadere, San Fernando.

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