MORE than 31,000 people have applied for 5,000 positions of special reserve police (SRPs).
As a result, National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday said he was going to approach Cabinet again this Thursday with a note to hire 5,000 more people as SRPs.
This will bring the number of SRPs to be hired to 10,000 as Cabinet had last week approved Warner's request for an initial 5,000.
Warner will also be asking Cabinet to approve the purchase of 100 motor cycles for the Police Service.
Cabinet last week approved $289.6 million for the continued fight against crime which included the recruitment of SRPs as well as the purchase of 300 vehicles for the Police Service and upgrade and installation of modern Information Technology (IT) equipment to improve the response systems of the police.
Warner told the Express by phone yesterday that there were preliminary reports of some 31,000 people applying for SRP jobs.
These figures excluded the thousands who turned up at the recruitment drive at North Eastern College, Sangre Grande yesterday and the drive carded to take place at the Scarborough Secondary school this Friday.
Thousands turned out at the recruitment drives last Tuesday at the Chaguanas North Secondary School, last Thursday at the UTT campus, Tarouba Link Road, San Fernando and last Saturday at the Police Academy, St James.
At the Police Academy, people began lining up as early as 3 a.m. and by 8 a.m. according to police estimates, there were close to 10,000 people in a line stretching as far back as King George V Park.
People who arrived at 8 a.m. stayed in the lines for over 12 hours braving the blistering heat and scattered showers.
The entire process was eventually completed by around 11 p.m.
There was a noticeably high turnout of female applicants .
Applicants were required to take a test comprising dictation and answer some 20 written questions.
"I never expected that kind of response, I will ask Cabinet to consider seriously doubling the numbers. This shows that there are thousands of people in this country who not only want a job but are also concerned about the law and safety of the country and I am extremely heartened by this, I will make a request that the numbers be increased from 5,000 to 10,000," Warner said.
Warner said he would be discussing this as well as other matters with acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Stephen Williams at a meeting this Wednesday before he goes to Cabinet on Thursday.
"There is a new era in the protective services where no longer only males are applying, you will find many a times women work extremely hard and I don't want to say they are better, but sometimes they are and this is a good sign," said Warner.
Warner also pointed to the mixture of races applying for SRPs, saying that there was a perception that the Police Service was dominated by people of African descent.
He also pointed out that this recruitment drive was unprecedented as people of all heights and not specifically five feet, eight and a half inches (required height to join the Police Service) were invited to apply.
Warner said the country would be safer in days to come with an increased police presence.
Speaking to the Express yesterday by phone, Williams said he too did not expect such an overwhelming response.
"I want to first of all thank all the young people as most of the applicants were young people. I need to thank them for demonstrating interest in serving their country, this is a very positive," said Williams.
He said the SRPs would strengthen the fight against crime by adding support to the existing police service.
Williams said the required police force for this country was 7,715, adding that there was a shortage of 1,500.
Asked whether it would be unbalanced to have more SRPs than regular police officers, Williams said the increased numbers would increase the police presence across the country and strengthen the needed support.
"We would be able to do things that we couldn't do in the past," said Williams.
Questioned on the difference between a regular police officer and an SRP, Williams explained that the SRPs act as support for the police officers and have similar functions such as powers of arrest and use of firearms when trained.
However, he said SRPs were not allowed to investigate criminal matters such as murders or cases of serious wounding because of their short time in training. He said over time their skills are developed into these areas.
Williams added that the Police Service comprises an equal number of people of both African and Indian descent.
He said because of the massive response, the entire plan for the recruitment of SRPs would be revisited and new deadlines determined, but, he assured that the process would be fast-tracked.
While tens of thousands have applied for SRP jobs, the National Security Ministry issued a release yesterday stating that citizens were also invited to apply to the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
This recruitment drive continues today at the North Eastern College, Sangre Grande, from 6.30 a.m.