POLICE officers should be allowed to take home their police cars and service pistols, National Security Minister Jack Warner has said.
This initiative would help in correcting the lack of visibility and the lack of responsiveness affecting the Police Service, he said.
Warner made the statement yesterday after he held a two-hour long meeting with the executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social Welfare Association (TTPSSWA) at the Besson Street Police Station.
"The second thing I also discussed with them is the possibility of police officers going home with their cars. A police officer's car must be a car that belongs to him when he is in the service and when he is working and he goes home with his car, and even the mere fact that the car is in the neighbourhood, a police car is there it means that he can answer a call at a moment's notice," Warner said.
"I agreed with them also that we should change the policy where many policemen are not armed. We have to have more armed policemen. We have to go through a process and these armed policemen must also go home with their firearm," he said.
Warner said just the presence of the police vehicle a community would bring "comfort" to its residents.
"Let's say a man is living in a housing scheme in Mango Rose (Laventille) and he is a police officer and he goes with his (police) car...that alone brings comfort to the community," Warner said.
The initiative of having police officers taking home their police cars and service pistols has already been tried and tested in New York City, the United States of America (USA) and has had a positive impact on addressing crime there, Warner said.
"The vehicle which the policeman will now have will be his sole responsibility. He has to ensure the vehicle is maintained, you have service stations in each division which he can go to to get repairs and so on.
"But this is his baby, he must take care of it and so that culture (of abusing the police vehicles) alone will change overnight. You will see of course clean vehicles, washed and so on, vehicles going at a moment's notice to a call, a complaint as the case may be," Warner said.
"This is nothing new, in New York for example. I did not get this idea from heaven. In New York every policeman keeps his own vehicle. So why is it good for New York and bad for here. Why is it? Look at the results in New York City for the last three or four years look and see what they are doing and whatever they are doing that is good let us bring it here," he said.
Warner said the police cars are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) which can trace their whereabouts and prevent officers from abusing their use.
"The vehicle has GPS (Global Positioning System) on it now. He will be on call 24 hours even if he is off duty you can still call him. The more you see police vehicles and police officers is the higher the visibility and the lower the crime rate," Warner said.
"The policy of the Police (Service) is set by the Minister and the implementation of it is set by the Commissioner (of police)," he said.
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