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Turks & Caicos Natl Emergency Operations activated; what happens as Hurricane approaches

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Team

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 18, 2022 – The Acting governor and Education Minister during a press conference on Saturday September 18 announced:  government offices and Public schools will remain closed until the all clear is given.

It was also announced that civil servants could look for their paycheques ‘soon’ as the TCIG has now promised they will be released early and ATMs will be well stocked for the inevitable rush.

All private businesses are requested to give their staff the appropriate time to prepare themselves for the storm including closing businesses where necessary; there has been a meeting with the hotel and tourism sector related to this and other protocols.

As tropical storm Fiona approaches the Turks and Caicos one hurricane shelter on each island will open. The shelters are as follows:

In Salt Cay: Clubhouse shelter in south district

In Grand Turk: Eliza Simmons Primary School

In South Caicos: The Community Centre on Sarah Hill

In North Caicos: Kew Community Centre

In Middle Caicos: Mount Moriah Baptist Church

In Providenciales: Gustavus Lightbourne Sports Complex

Shelters open at noon on Monday and one needs to move to a shelter, officials advise you make up your mind early.

People in flood prone areas should enter the shelters prior to the storm’s arrival and not attempt to drive once Fiona has arrived. Take at least 3 to 7 days of food and any necessary medication and download that new DDME app.

Alcohol, pets, smoking, and offensive language are not allowed in any shelters. To keep your pets safe make arrangements with a local vet.

The airport will be closed on Monday, not due to the public holiday and State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth but due to the approaching storm – Fiona, which is expected to pack severe enough winds that it warrants a suspension of flights.

Godfrey Smith, CEO of the TCIAA said this will likely lead to an increase in exiting travellers on Sunday therefore the Airports Authority  was preparing for around 500 passengers – a low number but remember it is the slow tourism season.  The TCIAA also braced for additional flights to accommodate and early exit of guests who may not want to ride out the hurricane in TCI.

On Monday:  there will be no American Airlines or JetBlue flights.  But there is a Delta flight to Atlanta, scheduled for a 9am departure; Caicos Express airways will run its flights to GrandTurk and PLS at 7:30am and 8:15am; InterCaribbean Airways will run two departures from the PLS, both to Kingston, Jamaica at 8:30am and 8:45am.

Extra flights put on for September 18 were American Airlines to Miami, stopping into SCU and departing PLS at 6pm; JetBlue Airlines into JFK departing at 5:35pm and an interCaribbean Airways flights, to Kingston leaving at 7pm on Sunday (today).

Grand Turk Cruise Center only opens when ships call.

If the weather is not favourable for berthing, then they will be diverted and the port will not open.  Akierra Misick, Minister of Physical Planning and infrastructure Development during that press conference confirmed the Cruise Center has its own protocol in the event of a storm adding that with some time left before Fiona makes her entrance into TCI territory, it is left to the cruise line to determine what happens at the cruise center in Grand Turk.

The roster for the Grand Turk Cruise Center at its website however shows there are no cruises scheduled to dock on Monday in the capital.

As for the weather effect of Fiona, Director of the Met said:  “TS fiona is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by today, Sunday before passing over or near the TCI on Tuesday.”

In a best case scenario the storm passes to the east, worst case scenario it passes directly over the TCI according to Dr. Holly Hamilton .

“This is dependent on how early the storm makes its northward turn. Marine conditions will begin to deteriorate by Sunday, tropical storm conditions will begin to affect the islands by late Monday and may  last through to Wednesday, major flooding has already been recorded in the Leeward islands .

Between 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected for the Turks and Caicos islands.”

A second NEOC press conference was announced for 6pm Sunday September 18.

Crime

TCI Community College staff struck and robbed, another chased in car by attackers

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – Attacks against several of its staff members last week have forced the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College to reassess its security.

“The college is robustly ending in immediate steps to review and reinforce our campus security protocols,” said a February 16 letter to staff seen by Magnetic Media.

The letter puts the date of the incidents as February 15th at one of its Providenciales campuses.

In the first,  a male member of staff was attacked and his car stolen after he left a meeting. When Magnetic Media queried police about the event, they released additional details of the robbery.

We were told around 9:15 pm, Thursday February 15, a 39-year-old male and his colleagues were leaving the TCI Community College Campus, Princess Drive, Providenciales, when a group of men surrounded his vehicle.

The man, noticing that one of the men had stopped at the rear of the vehicle, approached him to investigate and was struck on the head. In the immediate aftermath, the assailants escaped in the victim’s car, leaving the TCICC staff member injured at the scene.

The victim was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center by police officers, and up until news production time, the car had not yet been recovered.

Following this incident, the Community College also revealed that a car chase had taken place.

A female member of staff this time, was chased down by suspected criminals as she left the campus. The employee managed to outdrive the people pursuing her and arrive safely at her destination, but she was described as shaken.

Now both, police officers and campus administration are urging residents to remain vigilant, especially when heading into their cars at night.

Safety tips that can help residents avoid attack, robbery, injury, or worse include:

  • Stay alert when heading to your vehicle; don’t be distracted by your phone; pay attention to your surroundings.
  • if you see anything or anyone suspicious, do not investigate on your own; go back and get a security guard or similar personnel to assist.
  • Have your keys ready in your hands before approaching your car, so you can enter the safety of your vehicle immediately.

The police have not yet arrested anyone for the robbery attack against the employee.

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News

Royal TCI Police share CAREER DAY Highlights

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – On Thursday, 8th February 2024, between 9 am – and 2 pm, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force attended a Career Day event at the Enid Capron Primary School, Five Cays, Providenciales.

Under the theme “Be aware, choose a career”, the RTCIPF showcased the many career options available in policing.

Members of the Community Policing Unit, Safeguarding and Public Protection, Anti-Gang and Drugs Unit, Marine Branch, Traffic Enforcement, Air Support Unit and Mechanical Department were present.  Officers answered questions posed by the young, impressionable minds.

Insp Ensa Wilson lectured students on various topics, including: “Good Touch, Bad Touch”, alerting adults to inappropriate situations and the importance of calling 911.

Students were asked questions following the lecture and were given RTCIPF tokens.

Sgt. Kavin Mars, along with PC Fitzlewis McDonald and Kiyon Doughty of the Anti Gang and Drug Unit, freestyled “Don’t Huff, Don’t Puff, Don’t Do That Stuff” and warned students of the dangers –health and legal – of using drugs.

Superintendent (Community Policing and Divisions) Dwight Gardiner commended the school’s initiative and applauded the representation of officers present.

Supt. Gardiner said: “Career Days often highlight the importance of community policing and underscore law enforcement’s vital role in fostering trust, collaboration, and safety within neighbourhoods.

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News

Astwood Rejects Foreign Interim Commissioner Appointment, Advocates for Locals

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Dana Malcolm ‘

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – “Hell no” would have been the response from Edwin Astwood, Opposition leader, to the prospect of hiring a foreigner to the position of interim acting Police Commissioner; instead, he brought out a list of locals the Governor should have considered.

“I have nothing against the individual [hired]––but what I am saying is we have 16 top right ranked Turks Islanders,” he continued, “and if I was a part of any meeting–– concerning this acting post and bringing in someone from the outside, I would say no.  In fact, I would say hell no.”

Astwood gave his reasons:

“I strongly believe that promoting Islanders from within to the position of commissioner is crucial. Internal promotions foster a sense of loyalty and commitment among the department ranks. Officers, who worked their way up through the organization, have a deep understanding of its culture, values, and operational procedures,” he said.

The Leader of the People’s Democratic Movement was speaking after the funeral of the late Jayden Joshua Smith, five days after UK national Chris Eyre was appointed to the role of interim acting commissioner following the announcement that the man who was hired for the police commissioner post would be unable to take on the job until May, for medical reasons. The opposition leader believed those in charge namely: Washington Misick, Turks and Caicos Premier and Daleeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, TCI Governor should have considered locals for the post.

”You cannot tell me, looking at these 16 names of the top brass of the police, at the level of inspectors and up, that no one from these 16 can at least act as Acting Commissioner until the Commissioner comes here,” said Edwin Astwood.

Citing what he described as the abundance of skilled officers, Astwood chided Washington Misick for allowing the appointment.

”I am disappointed in the Premier and the Ministers; in whatever meeting they had, for not representing our people, I surely would have.” He continued, “I was very disappointed at the House of Assembly on Thursday when I heard members—afraid to come to the defense of our people in this position.”

Astwood also pointed out that it was not unusual for the country to have a local commissioner, and the record of the last 14 years where the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) had been under a foreign national. Citing the government’s desire for results, he said,

”[In] fourteen years, have you seen law enforcement and crime fighting and prevention getting better, getting worse, or has it stayed the same?”

“We have had commissioners and activity commissioners from the Turks and Caicos in the past, did we get results? I would say yes. We’ve had commissioners and deputy commissioners from outside; did we get results? We gave them 14 years, and we’re still saying that we need to bring someone from the outside to give them another 14 years? Are we saying that our local people cannot do the job? I say they can Yes, we can,” he maintained.

Eyre, who is holding the fort for Edvin Martin, Commissioner Designate, will only be in the post for three months; Martin is expected to arrive in May.

Rodney Adams, Deputy Commissioner and Kendall Grant, Assistant Commissioner had both been serving in the post since November, when Trevor Botting demitted the office.

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