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Griffith reveals plans to go hi-tech

Thursday, December 12, 2013
As Govt steps up fight against crime...

Organised criminals have expanded their technological artillery to execute crime behind the backs of law enforcement officers. However, crime-fighting strategies, including computer crime scene re-enactments, shoeprint analysis, forensic black light analysis and psychological profiling are still not utilised by local police officers. 



High-tech equipment such as panoramic cameras, 360-degree crime scene room scanners, devices to match bullet casings like fingerprints and a high definition impression analyser are available on the international market  but not in T&T. This is why calls are now being made for the Government to wage war on the criminals using advanced technology to improve T&T’s abysmal crime detection rate of less than ten per cent.


 In an interview last week, former assistant commissioner of police Winston Cooper said criminals were ahead of the game in their use of technology. He said a registry of all sex offenders in T&T still has not yet been established. “I am disappointed by the T&T Police Service. They have let me down badly because everything has fallen apart since I left. Highly-trained forensic crime-fighting officers are no longer part of the team,” Cooper said.


 He added that a senior computer CCTV analyst who returned to Trinidad after working abroad for years, has not been able to find work. Cooper said while existing legislation was sufficient to deal with crime, implementation of crime strategies continues to be a major problem.


Meanwhile, forensic pathologist Dr Valerie Alexandrov said the use of forensics methods in evidence gathering can help police in their war against the criminals. He said there were delays in processing evidence because the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James was closed on weekends. 


“Detection of crime depends on time and how fast we can process evidence to point the police in the right direction. The whole process is upside down. Forensic pathologists are not called on crime scenes and if someone is killed on the weekend, we have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to do the autopsy,” he said. 


In the meantime, Alexandrov said the body can be tampered with as it is lodged in the hospital mortuary or funeral home. He called for more training of police officers in forensic methodology saying this may be one of the ways to solve crime.



New crime-fighting technology coming
However, Minister of National Security Gary Griffith said improved technology are being utilised in the crime fight. “Our plan is to optimise the use of technology and information management. We are in an era where crime is becoming more technologically intensive; criminals are finding new ways to use technology to commit crimes. As such, technology is very important in our crime-fighting strategies,” Griffith said.


“The use of GPS-equipped cellular telephones and vehicles in patrol management, CCTV cameras in strategic locations are a few examples. There are other areas where technology is used in crime investigation; however these cannot be disclosed for security reasons.” He said training remains high on the TTPS’s agenda.


“Officers continue to be trained on a regular basis to deal with the complexities associated with major homicides and other serious crimes such as sexual offences, cyber-crime, fraud, domestic violence, gang violence, human trafficking, money laundering. These training sessions are conducted both locally and internationally thereby increasing the officers capacity to effectively investigate these offences,” Griffith said. 



He added that officers are also receiving training in crime scene investigations, adding there are ten cases before the courts. During his recent official visit to the United Kingdom, Griffith said he met with a number of UK security companies, to provide land and maritime assets and equipment for the Defence Force and the TTPS.


“I had the opportunity to view armoured vehicles, hovercrafts and interceptors. The hovercraft has the capability to manoeuvre in swamps, rivers and shallow water areas that are inaccessible to the regular Coast Guard vessel. It can operate over flat surfaces including mud, logs and debris and in most rugged terrain” he said. Police sources said these craft can be used on the south western coastline where drugs are brought in on a daily basis.


Griffith also said four interceptors will be purchased within the next year to assist in pursuit and patrol. He said armoured vehicles will also be purchased and used to transport various calibres of weapons for soldiers who will be operating them in high risk areas. With regard to counter terrorism and covert operations, Griffith said he will dismantle gangs and transnational criminal activities by putting the law enforcement officers to combat any possible insurgency that may occur. 


“The particular areas that will be targeted are Riot Control, proper establishment of a Counter Terrorism Unit and training, as well as development of HUMINT (Human Intelligence) capabilities,” Griffith said. He also promised to boost existing K-9 units. “To further compliment the acquisition of these military assets and increase the capability at ports and possible points of entry, a comprehensive audit of the K9 Units will be undertaken to establish a sustainable programme,” he said.


Griffith said he also intended to work with UK forensic science company CARIFOR, to assist in strengthening the procedures of local forensic laboratories, in an effort to improve the detection and conviction rate of murders. He also added that CCTVs will be locked into all Rapid Response Unit vehicles to provide real time information to the Operational Centre.


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