ACTING Police Commissioner Stephen Williams yesterday admitted that he was “not proud” of the Police Service’s current detection rate for murders in Trinidad and Tobago.
Williams said the murder rate and the detection rate would both be effectively addressed next year.
And National Security Minister Gary Griffith has pledged his support to Williams.
Griffith said, in the next few weeks, initiatives would be put in place to make the “1,290,000-odd” law-abiding citizens in this country “virtual police officers”.
Griffith, Williams and Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj yesterday walked through the streets of Port of Spain and visited officers on joint patrols.
The walk started around 3.30 p.m. at the corner of Queen and Frederick streets.
The trio walked east along Queen Street and then south along Charlotte Street until the Brian Lara Promenade.
Shoppers, vendors and motorists greeted the trio.
Officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) handed pamphlets containing “Christmas Safety Tips”.
Speaking to members of the media before the walkabout, Griffith said “statistics do not lie” and pointed out that major criminal activities had decreased from 15,000 last year to 12,000 this year.
Griffith said because law enforcement was able to “peg back” the funding of criminal activities through State contracts, criminal elements were now “attacking each other for the little bit of scraps that are being left behind”.
“I want to ensure the law-abiding citizens that you are in fact much safer than you were last year. Yes, the murder rate is just about the same or higher, but the fact is, based on the strategies being implemented by the law enforcement agencies through higher visibility, better intelligence, joint patrols, better collaboration, you should feel a lot safer,” said the Minister.
Griffith said instead of implementing crime plans which are just a “hit and hope” method, the National Security Ministry was “putting specific national security policies” in place.
Williams said while the Police Service was able to achieve “phenomenal” success in terms of violent crimes, one statistic remained a challenge--murder.
“When we address murders, we address detection and we drive crime down, we will then explore what else we need to do but we will continue to police Trinidad and Tobago to make the place a safer place,” he said.
Williams said while the Police Service was able to achieve the majority of targets set for this year, he did not meet the detection rate target.
He could not say what the detection rate was at this point.
“We have not met the detection rate target, we have not met the murder rate decrease, but we have met all the other performance targets we have set.”
Williams said they will both be addressed next year.
“We will be addressing it in 2014 because it is a critical feature for the public and it is a critical feature for the Police Service, so we will be addressing it as a major concern.
“I am not proud of that, but I am also saying that I am very proud of the achievements...the officers have worked extremely hard to achieve what we have achieved, so I am proud of the achievement, I am not proud of the things we have not achieved,” he said.
Griffith pledged his support.
“In support of the Commissioner of Police for the detection rate, the detection rate can increase based on two things--improvement of crime scene investigation...what we intend to do is to support the police and provide them with more high-tech equipment and data to assist them in improvement of crime scene investigation,” Griffith said.
“But more so the detection rate will increase based on the most powerful element to solve crime, which is that of human intelligence, that being information being passed on to the law enforcement agencies so that they can go forward and solve cases.”
He said citizens will play a major role in the detection rate being addressed.
“Now because of that lack of confidence of persons because of the fear factor, what we have to do is to provide mechanisms to allow law-abiding citizens to be part of the system, be part of the process and be comfortable to know that they can pass on information to the law enforcement agencies, because the only way the law enforcement agencies can assist the citizens is if they can get the information from those same citizens, so it is a win-win situation,” Griffith said.
“Through certain systems that we will be bringing forward in the next few weeks, it will allow law-abiding citizens to provide that information, it will allow the 1,290,000-odd law-abiding citizens to become virtual police officers for them to pass information on to the agencies, that the police can then use to assist them in intelligence, evidence-gathering and ensure successful convictions,” he said.