A staggering 500 police vehicles have been taken out of service over the past three years and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith blames an inefficient maintenance system for the ongoing problem.
Griffith said those vehicles have been taken away from Police Service crime fighting ability.
He told Guardian Media that the Police Service’s (TTPS) preventative maintenance system of vehicles was so flawed that up until the middle of 2018, a police vehicle was being written off and being taken out of service every three to four days.
This was because those responsible for managing the fleet would wait until the vehicles were critically damaged or worn before sending them for repairs.
It is for this reason that an audit of the TTPS’s fleet has been ordered so that the status of each vehicle can be assessed on which are in good working condition, which can be repaired, written off and used for parts.
“Our preventative maintenance system was flawed whereby we used to wait until vehicles reach the point of no return, then send them for repairs. All vehicles purchased by the State should be subjected to the proper preventative maintenance process. Going forward, there is going to be a proper vehicle maintenance programme and there will be a level of accountability so that when police officers damage vehicles through being irresponsible, they will be held culpable and disciplinary action will be taken.
“If you can recall, I took action when two police vehicles were involved in an incident when the officers were driving at 140 km, racing back to the police station for no apparent reason. If they damaged any vehicle, State property, based on a being irresponsible, disciplinary action will be taken. For the use of State property, there needs to be a degree of accountability. We can’t have people damaging vehicles and then loans have to be taken out to replace them. Through a proper system, we can minimise expenditure for maintenance and acquisitions,” Griffith said.
He said there were over 150 derelict vehicles at the TTPS training academy in St James, Port-of-Spain previously, but after an assessment and removal, the sporting field can once again be seen.
The backyard of the Vehicle Management Corporation (VMCOTT) in San Fernando resembles a hospice for police vehicles that have been slowly decaying for years.