A good case can be made for the firing of Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher, based on her performance before the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament on anti-crime measures, during which she was surely required to justify her stay as CoP and did not.
CoP Harewood-Christopher’s disclosures to the JSC indicate that she and the T&T Police Servcie (TTPS) have failed in critical areas of getting to the root of the criminality that is threatening to extinguish the life of the people of this country. Her timidness before the JSC also did not paint a picture of confidence befitting of an individual charged with commandeering a major arm of this country’s national security apparatus.
Commissioner Harewood-Christopher admitted that of the 11 targets set to reduce crime over the last 12 months, not one of them was achieved, and by some distance of failure. While she did a bit of a wobble when asked by JSC deputy Vice-Chairman Senator Paul Richards who set the targets, she eventually said all but one of the objectives were set by her, the other by the Police Service Commission.
“We were unable to achieve any of the targets because the targets were a bit exaggerated. If we look at previous achievements over the years, these targets were never really met, so it was ambitious to sort of encourage the officers to really work towards reaching that target,” the CoP told the JSC.
That the Commissioner and her officers were not able to achieve even one of the 11 targets not only compounds the failure, but also indicates a critical incapacity for realistic planning, which must surely be the responsibility of any police commissioner.
One other major weakness of the CoP’s inability as revealed in the JSC, was in her admission in relation to the number of the gangs and criminals that exist and are plaguing the society.
“We have a relatively small number of offenders … who are responsible.”
The country can therefore conclude that the task of capturing and charging these criminals is not an almighty and impossible one; that we in the society are not overrun by criminals and their gangs; and that they are presumably well-known to the police and are not hiding in inaccessible places.
Then why this outstanding paucity in the achievement of the task of corralling these criminals, finding the evidence to convict them and so put them out of circulation? Moreover, why are the police and other arms of law enforcement at least not curtailing the growth and development in this criminal culture that has consistently resulted in over 500 murders annually, in robberies, home invasions, rapes, kidnappings and other forms of criminal violence against citizens?
Yet another failure of Commissioner Harewood-Christopher, again through her own admission, is that of the continuing inability of the police to find and prosecute those responsible for the importation of the tools of crime and for the organisation and major beneficiaries of the criminal enterprise.
“We know that firearms, gangs, and drugs, are the major issue that challenge us, so that we are focusing on reducing the firearms and the drugs,” was her quite flaccid, weak response on those central issues.
Overall, this newspaper has been fair and even encouraging of Commissioner Harewood-Christopher. However, by her own admission, she has failed.