Patrol officers will have new uniforms by mid-year, an online facility for quick reporting of crimes and introduction of Shot Spotter technology to pinpoint the location of a gunshot immediately as it’s fired are among T&T Police Service (TTPS) initiatives being introduced in the coming months, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said yesterday.
“Several new developments will emerge this year in terms of making the TTPS more efficient and geared towards better meeting the public’s needs,” he said.
Redesigned patrol police uniforms have been in the works for well over five years. Patrol officers currently wear grey short-sleeved shirts or long-sleeved blue shirts, while other divisions wear different uniforms. Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) officers wear tactical heavy-duty gear while members of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) wear camouflage type uniforms. The latter was introduced last year.
Griffith said the GEB and SORT uniforms won’t change but the wear for the rest of TTPS has been redesigned. The new uniform includes a lightweight shirt, silver police badge for easy identification and a utility belt for holding minimum-force equipment—tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets—plus a radio.
He explained: “It’s a more customer-friendly design similar to what’s used by US and UK police. I’ve sent the pattern and costs to Cabinet and am awaiting approval.”
TTPS will also get the benefit of Shot Spotter technology which is used in the US.
“The sensor system is placed in strategic locations around a country and information can be picked up via sound and cameras soon as a shot is fired. This can be fed to a centre. The technology can also track the type of weapon used, has significant potential for pinpointing gangs and their activities. It has been used in Los Angeles and New York for this,” Griffith said.
Online reporting of crime will also become available soon with a new TTPS website.
The Commissioner said: “Some people don’t like to go to police stations to report crimes and people often want to report a crime as it happens. This facility caters to this. Online reporting will also free up police to do more policing. It also supports the ‘see something, say something’ drive.”
Griffith defended the acquisition of armoured personnel carriers for hotspot areas.
“If anyone has problems with this, it means they’re not concerned about officers’ safety. I’m awaiting National Security Council approval. We’ve seen the need for this when culprits were shooting at police for hours (in Chaguanas) and similar other incidents,” he said.
A longer-term plan is the construction of TTPS Police Headquarters.
“We never had a TTPS Headquarters. What we have is a police administrative building, built after TTPS headquarters was destroyed in 1990. We currently spend millions in rent for various police divisions scattered from Aranguez to Port-of-Spain, making co-ordination difficult. We intend to build the Headquarters at the St James Training base where land is available and all units can have a centralised location in a ten-storey building. I’m seeking approval for this,” he said.
Griffith’s also waiting for the Education Ministry to submit a list of the most high-risk schools to provide a new School Security Unit and is finalising a Gender-Based Violence Unit. There are also plans to improve the lights on police vehicles which Griffith said people have complained are too bright.