Trinidad: Special police unit to be disbanded

Port of Spain – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has confirmed the disbanding of its Special Operations Response Team (SORT) following a review of its role in the deaths of two men who were detained last year in relation to the murder of a court clerk.

Acting Commissioner of Police, Mc Donald Jacob, confirmed a Sunday Express newspaper report on the disbanding of SORT that had been established by former police commissioner, Gary Griffith, who has since claimed “political interference” for replacing SORT with the National Operational Task Force (NOTF).

But Jacob, speaking on local radio here, said that after the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) submitted their findings, along with their recommendations, and intelligence information from international partners “a decision was made by the executive of the police service in the latter part of the year, to deal with the dismantling and setting up a new entity to continue carrying out some of the work that was done by SORT”.

The acting top cop said that the report by the international partners dealt with the deaths of Andrew “Solo” Morris and Joel Belcon in police custody following their detention in relation to the murder of court clerk Andrea Bharatt, whose body was found at the bottom of a cliff in Arima, east of here, on February 4, last year.

Police claimed both men needed to be “subdued”, while they were being detained. They said Morris was “acting violently” when he was arrested while Belcon tried to escape.

Jacob said the police investigations into the deaths of the men are almost completed and that the file would be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for consideration on possible charges.

Jacob said the organisational structure of the police service was changed so that NOTF will not be directly under the office of the Commissioner of Police and that the new unit will have less manpower as its remit has since been reduced.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Griffith said the dismantling of SORT would negatively affect the morale of the entire service and endanger the lives of some as criminals will once again “be free to infiltrate the TTPS and influence rogue elements without consequence, which all negatively impacts citizens”. (CMC) 

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