A crack-shot team of anti-crime experts has been hired by a business lobby group to assist the T&T Police Service in dismantling and prosecuting criminal gangs who have been linked to the majority of murders in the country.
Leading the charge is former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Special Agent Robert Clark, who has been credited with bringing Los Angeles’ burgeoning gang wars to a halt in 2014 with his unique initiatives.
Clark was hired by a group of private-sector business people — The T&T Citizens Alliance Against Crime — seven months ago to partner with the TTPS. The T&T Chamber of Commerce, along with several NGOs and private sector companies, are members of this group which was formed in December 2018.
There is a proposal to employ Clark as a senior officer of the Police Service to operate his own specialised unit, according to correspondence shared among members of the group.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday from California, Clark said the team hired by the Alliance has come up with crime-fighting and crime prevention programmes tailor-made to combat T&T’s spiralling crime rate, especially the out-of-control gang wars.
The murder count for the first seven months of the year has surpassed 300 and last month there were 24 killings in just one week. The situation prompted this newspaper to lead a call for decisive action.
Clark, who served as a consultant in Central America for several years after he retired from the FBI in 2016, said this new initiative will make a difference because unlike the recommendations made by foreign consultants in the past, these have been “right-sized” for T&T.
Clark was introduced to this country’s crime scourge in 2017 when he visited as a part of a group of consultants attending a security conference. He served in the FBI for 20 years and was credited with leading the FBI’s 2014 programme to rid Los Angeles of its gang problems.
Acting on behalf of the Alliance, Clark has so far trained 45 local police officers in one of the first phases of a local programme to educate children about human trafficking.
“We have right-sized all of the strategies we have for T&T to make them applicable to the country and the culture, as well as the TTPS infrastructure and abilities. We have not only looked at this in terms of strategies and actionable items but we have also looked at training and equipment as well as a mentorship programme, identifying those progressive and proactive leaders within the TTPS who can be a part of really absorbing these initiatives,” Clark told Guardian Media.
CIA expert among
In the document obtained by Guardian Media, the Alliance identified Clark and Inspector Ray Festino of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and CSI detective Damon Martin as partners to the Alliance.
“We hired six consultants to work with the Commissioner of Police and the TTPS to develop programmes and plans to assist re: the reduction in crime. This was expanded to eight consultants, which included the following Clark, CIA expert in the field of intelligence Dr. Hans Mumm, former Attorney General of California & Congressman Dan Lungren, LAPD Detective Cedric Washington, Chief Bill Carter of Inglewood School district, Human Trafficking expert Dr Stephany Powell of Journey Out in California,” the document stated.
There was, however, no information on how much this initiative would cost and who was footing the bill.
The goal of the Alliance is to develop a plan to reduce the homicide rate and improve the detection rate, according to the document.
“Robert Clark led a joint programme between the FBI and LAPD; they developed a cold case unit, solved over 650 cases and took the clearance rate to 85%. Robert developed over 12 best practices within the FBI and these are now implemented nationally and internationally,” it continued.
According to the Alliance, Clark has been received with open arms by the TTPS.
In an interview yesterday, Alliance founder Nigel Salina was in high praise of Commissioner Gary Griffith.
“All kudos to the CoP. He is making a difference,” Salina said.
He pointed out that there has never been a collaboration of this type between the private sector and police before in T&T.
The document from the Alliance stated that Clark will be appointed as a Senior Superintendent in the TTPS in the coming weeks, but both Salina and Clark were hesitant to confirm whether this was true.
“I’ve heard that but that would be a question better answered by the CoP or Nigel. They would know the answer,” Clark said.
When asked, Salina said, “That is speculation. We are hoping that this will happen.”
Griffith was contacted on Tuesday for comment but deferred questions to the TTPS’ communications department.
Although a list of questions was sent via email on Tuesday, there was no response up until press time on Wednesday.
Some of the anti-crime
initiatives rolled out
So far, the Alliance has trained 45 police officers in human trafficking and several senior officers during an investigation conference in Las Vegas in February.
Clark has been assisting with developing units in each police division to counter violent crime with a focus on gangs. The Alliance said it has received a commitment from Commissioner Griffith to clear “all log jams” and have the units established in the coming weeks.
CIA expert in the field of intelligence, Dr Hans Mumm, has also assessed and compiled a 450-page report on the range of technology, including modern DNA testing, cellular tracking and monitoring, drones and predictive analysis using social media. The Alliance said Mumm’s recommendations would clear a backlog of some 9,000 DNA samples awaiting testing.
The consultants hired by the Alliance have also been visiting local crime scenes and making recommendations on best practices to the crime scene investigators.
Labelling the Alliance’s relationship with the CoP as “a true collaboration,” the Alliance also noted it will be using the Police Youth Club groups to make positive community impacts on young people.
Meanwhile, Powell’s expertise is being utilised to train 700 people from the TTPS, various government agencies and the Ministry of Education, as she has been charged with presenting a national plan to combat human trafficking.
The Alliance team will be participating in a regional round table on human trafficking in Mexico put on by Facebook and another training workshop with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in September.
After hosting ambassadors from Canada, the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and the United States earlier this year, the Alliance said T&T has been granted a grant of $4.5 million Euros to combat against domestic violence and violence against girls. This country would not have qualified for this grant otherwise because it is considered a high-income one.
Inspector Festino and CSI Detective Martin have also been working with the TTPS and after a brief stint observing its operations in May, returned to New York to prepare a report which they then handed over to the TTPS.
The Alliance also plans to use the Enterprise, Chaguanas community as a model for success, as crime in the area has gone down by 85 per cent after spiking in 2016.