“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday told his colleagues that while he was proud of their achievements in reducing crime statistics, he wants them to work four times harder at reducing the murder rate. The police plan to move more detectives to the Homicide Division to help cut down on the killings, he said. The murder toll is currently 264, while the number was 231 last year for the same period. Speaking at an award ceremony at the Police Administration Building yesterday, Williams said they had an uphill task.
He added that the media saw their performance through the lens of murders, and while there had been a decrease in other areas of criminal activity, murders must be addressed. “We have to see crime in the broad context as it impacts the lives of criminals,” Williams said. “But knowing that murders are used as the benchmark, over the next five months it is critical for us to put what I would call quadruple effort to make that difference.
“The numbers are high and we are not proud of the level of murders in the country. We are doing everything possible to drive the numbers down.” Williams said the police had been challenged by the State and society to treat with issues of crime and criminality and had set themselves a “stretch” target of reducing murders by 20 per cent to push the organisation, but so far there had been an increase. But, he said, they would find the right approach to reducing murders.
Among the successes Williams referred to was surpassing the targeted ten per cent detection rate, especially in the Eastern and South Western divisions. He also highlighted the Tobago and Central divisions, which had a 38 and 45 per cent decrease in serious crimes respectively.
Northern Division, led by Sr Supt David Abraham, was given special recognition by Williams, who said for the last three years it had been excelling in firearm recoveries, and while nationally there was an increase in murders, there had been a reduction in that division for the year. In his closing remarks, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of crime Glenn Hackett told the award winners: “I want us to reduce the murder rate more than the ten per cent we have given ourselves as a target. And this is not impossible.
“To achieve that, we at the executive level have taken a decision to transfer 50 per cent of the detectives in the divisions, as part of our anti-crime and anti-homicide drive, to transfer those detectives to the Homicide Division. They will assist in current investigations and cold-case investigations.
“More importantly, we want you to continue the impetus in the divisions with the hot-spot policing and other initiatives that we have together embarked on to realise this downward spiral in murders that we desire. “And we can do it. I assure you we can do it.”