Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says technology will be driving his crime-fighting efforts. He made the comment as he announced a revamped Emergency-999 hotline and the rollout of more Emergency Response Patrols (ERP) yesterday.
Speaking with members of the San Fernando City Corporation, Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce and taxi drivers at the City Hall auditorium, Griffith said these measures are expected to take effect in 2019.
He said police were now analysing data through the CompStat system by looking at threats to determine how to utilise their resources. He said the recently launched ERP has not been fully implemented but will soon play a major part in increasing police visibility and response so there will be a greater deterrent to crime. The ERP vehicles are equipped with GPS, which allows the new Operations Command Centre (OPC) at police headquarters in Port-of-Spain to track officers.
“This will actually put a lockdown in San Fernando, whereby these vehicles will be specifically assigned to San Fernando. I think it will be about 10 or 12 Emergency Respond Patrols. These will be GPS-tracked, they will remain in their areas of responsibility, because now we have an operational command centre at the police headquarters,” Griffith said.
“No vehicle that is marked to secure San Fernando can leave San Fernando to go anywhere else. No vehicle can actually stay parked in a specific area for hours because we can now make them accountable and there are consequences. We are measuring their performance and that is the importance of what we are doing by using technology. But technology can only be effective if it is you put systems to ensure the proper measurements of performance and accountability.”
He said in years gone by persons in distress would call the E-999 hotline and be put on hold for 20 minutes before being transferred to a police station, which may or may not have a vehicle. Within the next few weeks, however, he said calls to the hotline will go to the division’s OPC and officers will be able to see where the call originated so they can deploy the vehicles that are closest to the caller.
“So what we are looking at here is that any distress call in San Fernando, you will be able to get a response in seconds or maybe a maximum of three to five minutes and that is what is required.”
Regarding the body cameras for officers, he said the one currently being used cannot send live feeds back to the operation command centre and review of footage from them comes “after the fact”. He said while people see the body cam as a tool to verify whether police officers erred, it can also ensure the protection of officers who may be wrongfully accused. He said tenders for the provision of new body cams and dash cams that provide real-time viewing has been advertised.