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Making Rapid Response real

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Rapid Response Unit promised in August is now a reality, with an experienced police officer, recently-retired deputy police commissioner Mervyn Richardson, at its helm and a fleet of colourful vehicles to police the roads of T&T. Last week, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the launch of the first phase of the project, which will assign 80 officers and close to two dozen specially-modified vehicles to operate in the Western, Northern and North Eastern Divisions, in alignment with recent surges in crime statistics. 


It’s a project that has arrived at a critical juncture in the country’s impatience with demonstrated police inability to respond to crime. It’s no surprise, then, to find advertisements trumpeting the arrival and capabilities of the unit, but they may inadvertently be sending the wrong message. Clearly, someone thought that the idea of the unit might best be conveyed by ranks of parked vehicles.


But what citizens have long been asking of officers is quality and speed, not quantity when the need for police intervention arises. That’s a real need that the Rapid Response Unit is in position, as the anticipated first responders, to deliver. The apocryphal complaint about police response, that officers have no cars in an emergency, isn’t actually solved by having more cars, it’s best addressed by cultivating a customer-first attitude.