Securing the country’s borders from the entry of illegal guns is critical since more than 70 per cent of murders are committed using illegal firearms, said acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
The remit to do so, however, does not lie with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, he added.
“In excess of 70 per cent of murders are committed with firearms as the weapon of choice. Yes, there are murders from domestic violence, but firearms are the weapon of choice in committing (the majority of) murders. That basically means that these firearms are illegal firearms. They are not officially purchased in Trinidad and Tobago via a firearms user’s licence.
“It is therefore critical for us to secure the country from the entry of illegal firearms. That, however, is not vested in the Police Service. I’m not hearing anybody challenging any other organisation about this issue,” he said on Sunday in a telephone interview with the Express.
The second defining feature of the murder rate in Trinidad and Tobago, Williams said, is that the majority are occurring in the East-West Corridor, running from Carenage to Arima.
“That strip of land is a small part of the country, but responsible for the majority of murders—73 per cent. We have focused by way of increasing our policing activities along the Corridor, not neglecting the rest of Trinidad and Tobago, but focusing on the East-West Corridor to seek to have an impact,” he said.
Some of the police initiatives include Operation Hope in the Laventille area through an inter-agency task force with the T&T Regiment; efforts to search out illegal firearms; and increased night-time patrols.
“We are doing many things. We recently put in a rapid response unit which is now operating in Northern Division and Western Division; we have dedicated officers geared to driving the crime down in East/West Corridor.
“We also work with Hearts and Minds, a unit out of the inter-agency task force, to work with young people in Laventille and surrounding communities,” said Williams.
“(Crime) goes beyond the Police Service...there is a role for all other departments to play: social services, sports, education—it is not only an issue for policing. Crime is a social challenge. The crime is occurring in the depressed areas along the Corridor. There is a need for changing focus to improve the quality of life in those depressed communities that is beyond the Police Service,” he added.