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Killers roam while probers sidelined

I wish to comment on the article "Killers Go Free" dated Tuesday, January 15, 2013.

The major statistical item from the figures presented is the fact that "In 2009, the police solved the most number of murders in the past five years with 80 being detected, CAPA figures stated." 

This statistic by itself may appear to be frivolous, but if one were to analyse this statistic, it would lead to an inconvenient truth for many, including the present government. In 2008, the then Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) hired several well-qualified individuals (civilians) to strengthen the human capital of the Investigation Department. Several people were trained as crime-scene investigators and homicide investigators.

At the ending of 2008, the Homicide Investigation Task Force (HITF) was set up and the recruited personnel were assigned to this unit. At the height of its operation, at the beginning of 2009, the HITF composed of four teams each with 20 officers assigned.

The newly instituted Forensic Department of SAUTT composed of 21 trained CSIs and five laboratory analysts. Working in tandem, the HITF and Forensic Department worked assiduously on several cases that year: The HITF dealing with gang-related murders and the Forensic Department working collectively with the HITF and also providing services to the deficient TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service).

With 2009 being the first full year of operation of the HITF in collaboration with SAUTT Forensic Department, it led to a high detection rate and consequently, as reported in the article, this turned out to be the most murders solved in the past five years. 

In 2010, with the change in government, a policy decision was taken to disband SAUTT. Consequently, after the firing of Brigadier Peter Joseph, the HITF was not allocated any murders to investigate and in 2011, the entire HITF unit was scrapped.

A proposed strategic merger between the HITF and the TTPS Homicide Bureau never came to fruition. The Homicide Bureau hand-picked some ex-HITF members for employment on a contractual arrangement with reduced terms and conditions.

Several personnel were sent home and forced to look for employment elsewhere. Currently, as has been reported in the press, there is an acute manpower shortage in the Homicide Bureau as not only have the ex-HITF members left, but several TTPS members are transferring out of the unit due to its high workload and increased scrutiny.

The only reality of the merger is that the Homicide Bureau received the 12th floor of Riverside Plaza in Port of Spain where the HITF was located as well as all equipment and vehicles.

Common sense dictates that to solve murders there needs to be an increased human capital in the body tasked with investigating same. The 80 investigators and 20 CSIs trained in 2008 would have been ideal to aid in the detection and investigation of all these murders over the past five years. But sadly, political bitterness and revenge has over-shadowed the right thinking of policy makers in our beloved country.

The sad reality is that dynamic, young, patriotic individuals, all of whom had tertiary education degrees, could have been contributing to the fight against crime today.

Their expert training has been put to waste and the arrogance of the government in treating with these individuals has no doubt left a bitter taste in their mouth. One wonders if these individuals would be willing to come forward to testify in the courts when the matters are called. Guess the headlines is fitting indeed... "Killers Go Free".

Valena Williams

Cunupia

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