Senior Political Reporter
Heavy spotlight on gangs, recruitment of paid informers and zero tolerance on police indiscipline, corruption as well as officers whose absence causes cases to be dismissed are among the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) plans to combat violence in the country. Some aspects of the TTPS plan were presented by Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher at certain forums recently.
Discussions on security are among the main events when the Association of Caribbean Police Commissioners’ week-long annual conference starts tomorrow at the Hyatt, Port-of-Spain. T&T’s CoP is expected to be present.
TTPS’ plan began by acknowledging that violent crimes, especially gun-related homicides, have been increasing at a phenomenal rate, fuelling widespread fear across society.
According to the plan, “The problem is built around gangs, guns, and drugs” and there must be a turnaround in 2023 with targeted reductions of violence and fear by December 31.
The plan stated that a very small number of people are responsible for most of T&T’s violent crimes and the majority occur in a very small number of places (“hot spots”–and also occur within a specific period of the day and on specific days “hot times”).
It was noted that illegal firearms are smuggled into T&T individually or grouped with narcotics; using both legal ports and illegal sea points of entry.
183 illegal T&T ports
The document stated there are 38 legal ports in Trinidad and 156 illegal ones.
In Tobago, there are three legal ports and 27 illegal ports.
The plan noted a high prevalence of illegal firearms. Intelligence from the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) suggests an estimated 11,043 illegal firearms exist locally.
The top four police divisions for illegal firearms are Northern (3,937 ), Southern (2,453), Central (1,493), and PoS (1,196 ).
Plans include officers in each police division to collect and process intelligence on illegal firearms, special units to focus on illegal firearms as a priority and increased collaboration with US authorities to disrupt the trafficking of firearms from the US to T&T.
All out against gangs
In a bid to dismantle criminal gangs, the external focus includes:
• Substantially increasing the number of officers dedicated to the dismantling of gangs.
• Operationalising Gang Intelligence Units in each police division.
• Extensive data including gang sizes, locations, modus operandi, and profile of members/associates.
• Identifying/targeting the most violent gang members in each police division, most prolific offenders, with outstanding warrants, drug dealers etc.
• Recruiting paid informants to gather human intelligence.
• Using relevant law to disrupt gang activities.
• Precision-driven enforcement/prevention strategies in persistent violent hot spots.
• Identifying drug blocks in each division including dealers/associates.
• Collaborating with SSA, Customs, Defence Force, Prison Service and Immigration on activities, including border management and disruption of organised crime from prison.
• Improved operationalising of the Transnational Organised Crime Strategy and TTPS’ Transnational Crime Unit (TOCU) with more resources.
Zero-tolerance on police indiscipline, corruption
Internally, the focus includes:
• Performance standards for dealing with disciplinary matters.
• Enhance resources at the Complaints Division and the Professional Standards Bureau.
• Priority consideration to all complaints of corruption and disciplinary breaches.
• Account publicly for action taken against police officers for breaches of the law.
• Increase the complement of patrol officers by including all First Division Officers and officers from specialist units, branches, and sections.
• Co-ordinate the visible presence of all police agencies including TTPS, Municipal Police, Transit Police, and Traffic Wardens.
• Upgrading the system for monitoring police response/effectiveness.
• Monitor efficiency in the use of existing resources.
• Engage T&T Police and Social Welfare Association to secure officers’ commitment.
• Collaborate with the DPP to give the highest priority to the prosecution of violent offenders.
• Compile case files within the stipulated time and submit them to prosecutors.
• Ensure witnesses attend court on the trial date.
• Hold divisional commanders accountable through fortnightly COMPSTAT (computer statistics) for the performance of their divisions.
• Monthly community meetings in each division to account for performance/receive feedback.
• Target crimes of trafficking in drugs, firearms, and humans, money laundering, and cybercrime.
• Increased collaboration with local, regional, and international agencies.
• Implementation of a National Policing Digital Strategy.
Where we want to be by December 31, 2023
• 10 per cent reduction in Larceny of Motor Vehicles
• ↓20 people charged under the Anti Gang Act
• 40 priority offenders arrested and charged
• 5 per cent decrease in fatal accidents
• 20 priority offenders successfully prosecuted