Officials of the Princes Town Police Station Council have appealed to Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher to rethink a decision to transfer Snr Supt Richard Smith from the Southern Division.
At a media briefing on Saturday, council president Oral Sooknanan said the move could reverse progress made during Smith’s tenure to reduce crime across the division.
Smith is due to take up a new posting in the Northern Division from tomorrow.
Sooknanan said Smith, who lives in the Southern Division, was familiar with the district’s operations and had built successful partnerships with residents, who had grown confident enough to share information via his open door policy.
“Every time we have something that works and is starting to work, somehow, to me, they dismantle it and they move him from one district to a next,” he complained.
“If we do not have consistency in this district or any other district, how could we fight crime?”
Members of the council said in each district in the Southern Division, Smith had re-established station councils where residents and police officers got together to discuss issues affecting communities.
“Right now it is working and like him, they all have open door policies,” Sooknanan said.
His views were echoed by Tyrone Nanan, the business representative on the Princes Town Police Station Council, who said, “The business people are not happy because after one year of working with him, we are very confident in him because we have seen the level of crime decrease in the southern area. To lose someone like that is going to be a very tough thing.”
Nanan said with the Christmas season approaching, “crime is everybody’s business”. He said Smith’s transfer “could cause chaos for the business people”, as many of them had applied for firearm users’ licences (FULs) and had been turned down.
In response to calls for him to remain in the Southern Division, Smith explained the rationale behind the CoP’s decision. He said Harewood-Christopher was “strategically setting her field now so persons will have to move to accommodate what she intends to achieve”.
He added, “I am one of the persons she has identified to move around to achieve certain things in the area. They want to buffer areas with high crime rates so we can get those areas to acceptable levels at least.”
Smith said in an attempt to curb murders and serious crimes, the CoP “is pumping more resources and as well as changing around some of the First Division officers”.
Commenting on the appeals from Sooknanan and the council for him to remain in the Southern Division, he said: “I am touched they would go that distance to keep me here but I had a conversation with the Commissioner of Police and I understand her strategies and I accept my move.”
He assured that he will continue collaborative initiatives as part of his commitment to community and country. Smith will be replaced by Snr Supt Brian Ramphall of the Northern Division.