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21st-century initiative a waste says Warner
Questions have been raised about the evaluation process of the 21st-century initiative, which is being done by an American technical adviser whose contract was not renewed by the National Security Ministry. National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday said in 2006 Dwight Booker worked alongside American criminologist Prof Stephen Mastrofski, who was paid close to $80 million to reform the Police Service.
But Booker’s contract was never renewed. Warner met with members of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association for close to two hours yesterday at the association’s office at the Besson Street Police Station in Port-of-Spain.
The initiative was one of the main issues discussed.
“I have been informed that when Prof Mastrofski was here he had with him an American-born technical director by the name of Dwight Booker, whose portfolio the National Security Ministry did not renew. “And although his contract was not renewed he was lapped up...embraced by the commissioner of police to do 21st-century policing. This is a system which is being assessed by him... so he puts it in place and then he does the assessment,” Warner said.
Saying this was totally unacceptable Warner strongly maintained he was not in favour of the initiative. While Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs has remained adamant that the initiative was helping to reduce crime, Warner feels otherwise. “The association and I are on the same page about the 21st-century policing...we are against it. And under my watch it would have to change.”
He said police assigned to the initiative have produced tangible evidence why it cannot work. No feasibility study has been produced to determine the strengths or weaknesses of the initiative, he said. “There is no financial plan. The association said closing of the stations is counter-productive, but worse yet (is) telling the public that these stations are open from 6 am to 6 pm. This therefore tells the bandits what hours they could roam...it’s like a shop...8 to 4,” Warner added.
Describing this as being ‘inconceivable’ to citizens, Warner blamed it for the high level of police absenteeism in divisions where the initiative was put into practice. In Tobago, the situation was just as problematic as there was confusion as to which stations would take reports.
“If you make a report to Moriah or to Roxborough, it has to go to Scarborough, and that is one of the reasons why there is a flood of calls coming into the E999.” Under the initiative, Warner said, detectives do not work beyond midnight. Saying there was no system or structure in the police, Warner said more officers should be urgently recruited. Despite his criticism of the initiative, Warner said it would remain but drastic changes would be made.
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