Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Rapid Response Unit launched
Horrific, horrendous and intolerable were the words used by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday to describe the 19 murders for the year. She said so while speaking to reporters after the launch of the Police Service’s Rapid Response Unit at the National Operations Centre, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
In her address, her first since returning from New York after visiting her ailing sister, Sally Ahamad, Persad-Bissessar said: “For those families who are in the midst of tragedy and loss, I want to say our thoughts, our prayers and indeed my heart is with all of you.” She said the new initiative, which initially is being implemented in only three policing divisions, was part of her government’s plan to strengthen the protective services and reduce crime.
“I know that this is no comfort to families whose loved ones are gone but I think we need to reiterate that we must intensify the war on crime and on criminals,” Persad-Bissessar said. She said the unit would assist in quickening the police response to reports of crime and raise public confidence in the service. She added: “The launch of this unit represents an escalation on our war on crime and will be an important strategy, not only in helping to win that war but also to help make our citizens feel safe again.
“The unit will operate by evidence-based and intelligence-driven processes which all focus on quicker and more effective responses to calls for help from citizens.” Persad-Bissessar also called on citizens to assist the Government in the anti-crime initiatives, especially through participating in upcoming national consultations scheduled to be launched later this month. She also encouraged people to report crimes and suspicious activity using the 999 and 911 emergency hotlines.
“If we each do our part as government and as responsible citizens, we can together make our country safe again,” she added. Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams again called on citizens to work with the police in the fight against crime. The unit comprises a little over 80 officers and in its first phase will use almost two dozen specially-modified and painted vehicles.
Williams said its pilot project was introduced in the Western, Northern and North Eastern Divisions because statistics showed a large number of the violent crimes occurred along the East West Corridor.