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Deosaran tells of new dimensions in criminality

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

TRINIDAD and Tobago is now facing "new dimensions of criminality" which may be as a result of organised crime, Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran has said.

Deosaran, a criminologist by profession, made the statement to reporters at the PSC's office at the corner of Pasea Main Road and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Tunapuna yesterday.

"(Crime) is really frightening the public and I think with due reason. The police have a serious challenge ahead and I hope that they are allowed to do their work properly, fairly and fearlessly," Deosaran said.

Deosaran said he was "very concerned" about the country's crime rate and everybody else should be as well.

"Like the members of the public, the (Police) Commissioner, the commissioners (of the PSC) and myself are very concerned about the serious crime rate in the country. Everybody should be concerned because the way it is happening with the drive-by shootings and random murders, people liming in bars drinking beers and suddenly three or four of them being wiped out. You have heads chopped off and floating in rivers. These are new dimensions of criminality and it tells your there are a lot of organisations seemingly behind such serious crimes," Deosaran said.

He said a "higher level" of policing intelligence and less political influence was needed to combat crime.

"It (combating crime) really demands a higher level of intelligence from policing, and detection, and the less politics we have in crime- fighting is better, both for the Police Service and the public at large. That is why crime-fighting should be free from any undue prejudicial political influence," Deosaran said.

He said the "merry-go-round" in selecting a substantive Police Commissioner would not help in the process of bringing stability to the Police Service and thereby effectively combatting crime.

"We (the PSC) are very troubled about the recruitment process, it is protracted, it is expensive," Deosaran said.

"A country like this, independent and with such crime challenges facing us, we should have a more expeditious way of appointing a substantive, permanent Police Commissioner but we are constrained by the existing regulations," he said.

Deosaran said something had to be done.

"We cannot have a serious crime rate as it is, we cannot have such escalating public fear of crime

and yet the Police Service Commission is constrained in appointing a substantive Police Commissioner," he said. "It is not fair to the acting Commissioner and it is not fair to the public, most of all," Deosaran said. Deosaran and members of the PSC yesterday met with Williams to discuss his six-month performance appraisal as acting Police Commissioner. Williams assumed office on August 7 last year, following the resignation of former police commissioner Canadian Dwayne Gibbs. Following yesterday's meetings, Williams said the Police Service was doing its best to get a handle on crime in the country. "We are doing all that we can from a policing perspective, but it is not about just merely policing. Crime is a social phenomenon, and that social phenomenon has to be addressed by the society, all the stakeholders, all the citizens, the media; everyone has a part to play in bringing the solution to this problem that we have," Williams said. "From a policing perspective, we are doing everything we can do, but we are asking for the support, and simple aspects of support," he said. Hours before Williams' meeting with the PSC yesterday, the decapitated head of a recently released prisoner was found on a table in La Romaine in plain sight. The body was found three miles away. Last Wednesday, the partially decomposed and dismembered corpse of 21-year-old Shinelle Nelson was found in the Guayamare River, off the Old Southern Main Road, in Cunupia. Nelson's body was recovered but her head, arms and feet had been chopped off. Asked if he felt crime had become more "gruesome" in the country in recent times, Williams said: "It has not necessarily changed. Murders are gruesome generally, and it has not changed. We have had persons' heads being cut off in the past— in the short past, in the distant past—we have had gruesome crimes in Trinidad and Tobago." "We are hoping that we can eliminate crime in Trinidad and Tobago but that is an impossibility. But what we need to do is target how can we reduce crime to the minimum number that society can exist with," he said. Williams said "maximising" the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to prevent and detect crimes was being explored in a significant way.

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