Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
POLICE Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said residents can call 311 during the 24-hour curfew if they want assurances they will be given road access while travelling for essential services.
He told The Tribune Tuesday afternoon that calling 311 can help people concerned about getting through checkpoints.
However, he said calling 311 is not mandatory.
He said residents, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds, will be treated equally during the curfew and said he would be “disappointed” if officers let biases influence their willingness to grant people’s requests.
“Nobody will be disadvantaged with any of their requests. We try to deal with everybody fairly, no this for that one and that for the next,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the 311 number has 12 lines and can handle the anticipated surge in calls.
The Tribune asked him how residents could satisfy police they are going to access essential services.
“Call 311 for any query one has,” he said. “311 will give you an understanding of what you will be allowed to do and give you better access to what you are actually requesting. Officers on the checkpoints are really there for enforcement purposes. They will listen and have some discretion but the info should be channeled from the command centre to the various checkpoints. If there are really necessities for you to leave home, you should dial the 311 with the information about your location and where you are travelling. Once you get to the checkpoint, present a proper ID and the officers will say we got this information concerning you. There will be cases, emergencies, serious illnesses, where you cannot call 311 beforehand and the officers will deal with those situations accordingly.”
Nonetheless, Mr Ferguson said officers may not be particularly tolerant of requests to visit fast food restaurants.
“By now," he said, "from the time the prime minister made the announcement, people should have food in their house. You shouldn’t wake up 10am and say I feel like eating Wendy’s. Police is very unlikely to give you that consent just to go to Wendy’s. Everybody should practice familial norms and be cooking.”
Supermarket requests “are different” he said. “We may find you have a legitimate reason to go to the supermarkets. People have special diets and you may run out of food so that is very necessary.”
“But the point is we want people to obey the orders. Stay inside on your premises and obey the safe distancing and avoid interacting with too many people, that is key. The more we understand that as a people and allow the health professionals to do their thing to monitor this, the better.”
Among the essential purposes for which people can move around during the curfew are banking, groceries, refueling, washing clothes, doctor visits and outdoor exercises.