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CoP: Don’t judge us on murders alone

By Carla Bridglal

The Police Service should be judged not just on the number of murders committed, but by the overall reduction in violent crime over the year, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said yesterday.
“Is it fair? To judge an organisation on one thing as opposed to all (other things). The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has the responsibility of addressing the safety and security of the county. There are so many categories of crime, and for the TTPS we normally list 12 broad categories of serious crimes. And you are judging me on one.
“The Police Service should be judged on all that it has the responsibility to address, and it’s not supposed to be judged on one issue—that of murders,” Williams told the Express in a telephone interview yesterday.
He said in 2013, the TTPS has seen the “phenomenal results” of a 33 per cent reduction in violent crime, surpassing the TTPS’s goal of an 18 per cent reduction.
Violent crimes include shootings, woundings, robberies, rape and other sexually-related offences, and kidnappings.
“In the 2013 budget, the mandate to the TTPS was to reduce violent crimes by 50 per cent over three years. We have already achieved 33 per cent reduction in violent crimes in one year. I’m not hearing anyone saying anything about that. Anywhere else people will say that’s a phenomenon. All I’m hearing is one discussion: murder... We are seeing abnormal—I mean positive abnormal results. We set ourselves an 18 per cent reduction in serious crime in 2013. We have achieved 30 per cent,” he said.
The service had also set a ten per cent target reduction for fatal accidents and achieved 21 per cent, he said.
“Murders—that is the only category of offences that has defied the Police Service in 2013.”
Williams noted while murders grab the headlines, not all people see it that way, particularly the victims of other violent crimes.
“People who experience these acts of violence are not just judging crime in the context of murder; if you have fewer incidents of all these categories of offences, that is a positive thing for the country. As an organisation, Government gave us a mandate not to look at murders alone—we have to look at all the categories of violent crime.”
Noting National Security Minister Gary Griffith’s plan to introduce certain law-enforcement measures soon, Williams said once the police get a mandate from the Government it will implement it.
“The Police Service implements the policies of the Government... Once we receive that mandate, we set ourselves implementation targets (to roll it out in a timely manner). In 2013, that has been done in an unprecedented way. We put things into a 2013 operating plan and we have tracked them step by step all through the processes, from planning to implementation to delivery.
“I am satisfied that we have had the kind of progress necessary to improve the delivery of police service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago in 2013,” he said.
He said the service will go into 2014 “positively”.
The focus of the service in the next year will be to surpass the Government’s 2014 mandate of redu­cing violent crime by 50 per cent in three years to just two years.
“We will have a renewed focus on violent crime reduction, so we will be implementing an ‘Armed Vio­lence Reduction Strategy’ in 2014, with a clear focus on driving violent crimes in the country down.
“We are committed and on target to ensuring our efforts bring the country the results they have been crying out for so many years, but always remember that it is not an overnight fix. We are making progress,” he said.
Williams said the service will continue to work with communities and put more effort into community policing.
He added that he will be arranging a recruitment drive soon, especially for more male recruits.
“We’ll be doubling up training in 2014 so we can be effective in our planned strategy. There are 6,283 police officers, but we have approved staffing for 7,715. We are just about 1,400 officers short,” he said.
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