Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business Association, said the association was in support of the precepting of soldiers. She said the presence of soldiers in the city of San Fernando helped in keeping criminal activity to a minimum.
Bartlett was speaking at a consultation meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the amendment of the Defence Bill that is being debated in Parliament.
The meeting was held at San Fernando City Hall auditorium and was attended by eight people, other than the panelists.
The panelists were Bartlett, Daren McLeod, head of security for San Fernando City Council; Derek Smith, owner of SESL security services; and criminal lawyer Jason Jackson.
Bartlett said the upsurge in crime began after 2000 and since then “we have not been able to go back to a comfort zone or back to square one which would have been pre-2000”.
“Joint army-police patrols have made a drastic difference in the crime in our city. Given the crime situation in our country at this time, given the need, and we think we need more manpower there, we support this current bill 100 per cent.
“We are particularly pleased with the clause which says two years. After two years and even before, if we think they are taking advantage of any precept they would have, we would certainly call for a recall before the two years are up.
“Whatever it takes to bring crime under control we are in support of it,” said Bartlett.
Smith said he was not in support of the precepting of soldiers but armed security officers could be used in an attempt to decrease crime.
“I don’t support, personally, the giving of precepts to the army men. Why? These fellows are trained to kill.”
Eugene Bass, a member of the public, said he was “totally against the precepting of soldiers and it was an open threat to freedom and democracy”.
He said he was, “to fight for his freedom”.