Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says he is pleased to hear reports of crime-fighting successes, as he rallied behind the police in their work.
He said the progress being made was the good news the children and citizens of this country deserved as he hailed “a light at the end of the tunnel” in the fight against crime.
Dr Rowley made the remarks during his feature address at the Commissioner of Police’s Independence Day toast to the nation at the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Rowley was flanked by Deputy and Assistant Commissioners of Police at the Solomon McLeod Auditorium, where he addressed a packed hall consisting of active and retired officers.
Referring to statistics reported by Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher on Wednesday who noted a zero per cent increase in the murder rate and an 11 per cent drop in serious crimes for 2023 thus far, Rowley said these figures were encouraging.
As of yesterday morning, there were 392 murders for the year thus far which was on par with the figures for the same period last year.
Noting his time as a politician and how appreciation from the public could be scarce, Rowley said while the work of police officers was not recognised as often as it should, their efforts and sacrifices were crucial in preserving society. This was why he said he welcomed the news about the fight against crime.
“It is good news to hear that at least on this occasion we can see some light at the end of the tunnel against the criminal element.
“If the efforts are sustained, if the new methods are utilised and if we genuinely believe we have the integrity to confront the criminal element, at the end of the day the people of Trinidad and Tobago will prevail and this period of challenge will be a period to be looked upon and say there were times we were challenged but indeed we did succeed,” he said.
He added, “Our children deserve no less and our citizens are depending on the police service.”
Rowley said the job of crime-fighting was becoming increasingly difficult given the types of new technology available.
Referring to the seizure of “ghost guns” which were manufactured using 3-D printing technology at a house in Caparo this week, Rowley said the police were challenged by criminals who were becoming increasingly resourceful.
He said while policing was not for the “faint of heart”, all arms of the protective services could expect the fullest support of the National Security Council in arresting crime.
“As chairman of the National Security Council, whatever the level of criminal conduct is in Trinidad and Tobago, the one thing you can rest assured is the Government will make available to the police service all reasonable resources and we expect you will use these tools in the fight against criminals.
“I want you (police) to have the assurance that as you go out there, you’re not alone, you are in fact supported by the vast majority of the people of T&T.”
Referencing the saying that “crime doesn’t pay” Rowley said it was an unfortunate reality that some people benefitted from criminal activities.
He said that while failure was an inevitable part of humanity, the officers should not be daunted by the challenges ahead and reaffirmed his support to law enforcement while calling on the public to do the same.
CoP: Crime taking place mainly in one division
Police Commissioner Harewood-Christopher, during her address, acknowledged that while the ability of the police to combat crime has been questioned by the public, several crime-fighting initiatives were yielding benefits.
She reinforced the statistics she presented during a police media briefing on Wednesday.
Yesterday, she insisted that proof of the decline in murders was evident pointing to figures obtained from four of the ten police divisions.
“The rate is marginally higher in five divisions and the overall increase we have experienced is being driven largely by one division, the North-Central Division.
“I am extremely pleased to report, however, that despite the apprehension, the TTPS has been making substantial progress in its crime-fighting initiatives.
“As of the beginning of August we have seen some significant results and I can say from now the comparative homicide rate has reduced from an increase of 10 per cent, we are now at an increase of zero of the corresponding period,” she said.
Harewood-Christopher also reported that there was an 11 per cent drop in serious crimes and a decrease in woundings and shootings by 67 per cent.
She said while the police were firm in their resolve to ensure public safety, she was wary of unrealistic expectations from the public, noting that co-operation from citizens was key to the success of any anti-crime programme.
“The reality is that even though the resources of the police were to be doubled or tripled tomorrow, it still does not mean that the police will be everywhere ...
“What is needed in our society to produce the relief that is being demanded is to remove the desire and disposition of persons to commit crimes and that’s not a job for the police alone.
“That’s the job for the whole of a civilised society.
“The home, the school, the church and the community.
“A society where we instil in our citizens a sensitivity to right and wrong where we train young people to have respect,” the Commissioner added.
Harewood-Christopher also responded to critics of the police and her office noting that such people should use public platforms to raise awareness among the public.
She added that such comments could have serious consequences and possibly undermine the authority of the police.