In the midst of the pomp and ceremony of the 50th Independence anniversary celebrations, President George Maxwell Richards has called on the nation to "not ignore the reality that there are things that need to be fixed".
Richards made the statement yesterday at a police reception at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain, following the 50th Independence anniversary parade at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain which he had inspected.
"There is no magic wand or switch-off button that can cause crime to disappear. All our systems must come under close scrutiny to see where we have gone wrong and where we ought to change course.
"The battle must be fought on several fronts simultaneously, and perhaps we will help ourselves if some of the old-time-life ways are restored and indulgences must be thrown out," Richards said.
"It is important that we face the harsh facts but remain steadfast in the conviction that we will not yield our country to those who blindly pursue an agenda designed to rob us of our Independence and sovereignty," he said.
"Let us be secure in the knowledge that we can fix things if we put our minds to it, but we must," he said.
Richards noted the Police Service has had an "interesting" year, and while he urged officers not to be daunted by the "public games", he warned that they should not adopt a "business-as-usual" approach either.
"What is happening in policing at this stage in our development is that opportunity abounds for us to test our mettle and for us to be single-minded in making no room for those who do not understand what a Police Service is for," he said.
While the President said he enjoyed a special relationship with the local Police Service, he called on them to remember their function in the scheme of law enforcement.
"What it is not is a court of law, but its role must be such that it facilitates the judicial process by doing its job well; a law enforcement agency with clear understanding of its parameters.
"Knowledge of the law must be sound and its application impeccable, therefore, all members of the Service, including special reserve (police), must be properly trained on a continuing basis," he said.
Former commissioner of police Dwayne Gibbs was often criticised by National Security Minister Jack Warner for importing ideas that did not fit with the local culture, and while Richards supported Warner in that regard, he suggested that putting a local spin on imported police ideas could work.
"There is also the matter of due diligence in recruitment which must not be allowed to falter, and while we keep abreast of modern policing methods which are successful elsewhere, we must be careful not to set aside our cultural norms in applying them here, lest we frustrate ourselves. In this regard, community service must be a part of the mix, " he said.
Richards also called on those in authority to understand that independence and integrity in policing played an important part in getting the country back from the criminal element.
"Some of the solutions to the challenges that they face have their genesis in a commitment to integrity, which brooks no interference in the rules by which the Police Service is guided," he said.
He said for the moment, the country should celebrate but should also pray that over the next 50 years, "we will look back at this intensely challenging time as a hiatus in an otherwise resolute, successful and progressive thrust to becoming one of the best places on earth in which to live and grow".