Sunday, February 18, 2018

Police audit: valued item on Griffith shopping list

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Mark Fraser

Yet another T&T administration is shopping abroad for expertise to smarten and strengthen the Police Service as National Security Minister Gary Griffith is officially reported to be “finalising” arrangements for securing services from two New York-based outfits specialising in law enforcement. He is next apparently due to seek out other technical policing assistance from United Kingdom sources.

Mr Griffith’s efforts at reaching out for solutions and answers defines a road travelled before.

Undaunted, and with nowhere else to turn, Mr Griffith is trying again, dropping names — Giuliani and Braxton — as internationally resonant as brands in the policing business. The Giuliani-Braxton doctrines and inspiration had of course been invoked here before, in the course of start-and-stop efforts by successive National Security ministers at addressing Police Service shortcomings.

So, in what has become a familiar agenda, the 2014 Griffith initiatives flag concerns such as crime control, crime solving, and customer service.

These areas cry out for attention in a T&T where crime, despite officially asserted figures to the contrary, is felt to be spiralling out of control, and murders are indisputably known to remain mostly unsolved. Moreover, it would appear to require an overhaul of normal police mindset and methods for members of the public to be treated as “customers” entitled to helpful and respectful attention.

Mr Griffith’s request for proposals put to would-be foreign service providers extends to intelligence gathering, covert operations, crime scene investigations, crime detection, technology applications, and specialised operations regarding children, crime victims and emergencies. His ministry suggests that a retired New York police captain may be posted here to work in a hands-on capacity.

This should help in upgrading local policing toward something like first-world levels. It’s long been acknowledged that, as the ministry noted, new “threats” present themselves, for which the Police Service “does not cater”.

But maybe the most telling acknowledgment is the advisability of having officers patrol on foot or in vehicles, rather than sitting around inside stations “waiting for something to happen”. For this recalls the methods of “21st century policing” as advocated and attempted over the regrettably short-lived term of former commissioner Dwayne Gibbs.

With US and British help, it now appears, Mr Griffith is aiming to implement Canadian Dr Gibbs’ “21st century policing” by another name. Prospecting abroad for policing expertise not produced, or not recognised, locally is the mandate Mr Griffith, in his turn, is hopefully discharging.

With one promising difference. The performance of an “audit” of T&T police capacities should meet a long overdue need to establish a baseline “organisational and operational assessment”. Such an audit, an empirical snapshot, of where T&T policing stands in relation to where it needs to be, should stand as an enduring legacy of the current National Security Minister.