National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says he is confident Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher can and will deliver on her promise to get murders down by mid-year in the short-term, and overall crime by the end of the year as the long-term goal.
Speaking with reporters at the Maximum Security Prison, Golden Grove Road, Arouca, yesterday, Hinds also said it was not sensible for the public to use the murder toll to measure success in crimefighting.
“Nobody measures the preventative aspect of police work, so while you will have x amount of murders for a day, a month, a year, nobody takes any time, and I understand that, to determine how the police presence prevented … it could have been quite worse,” Hinds said.
“But I accept that unfortunately, it is the way it is.”
Former commissioners Stephen Williams, Trevor Paul and Gary Griffith have expressed varying degrees of confidence in Harewood-Christopher’s crime plan announcements, noting she would know best what strategies and measures were being formulated and just how they were intended to be used to achieve the T&T Police Service’s goals.
Asked whether he felt Harewood-Christopher could meet her mandate, Hinds said, “When I heard the CoP say to the national community that we can expect some slowdown by the month of June, I saw that as an assertion of her justified confidence.”
He added, “She’s a very experienced police officer, very qualified, and now as CoP, with her hands on the wheel, directing it, she will know what her strengths and what the circumstances are … she will know better than all of us what she is doing, and I have some ideas of what they are doing since I have had access to the police’s strategic plan and operational plans from time to time.”
Reaffirming his belief in Harewood-Christopher’s ability to get the job done, Hinds said, “I am really pleased that the Commissioner is in the place where she can assert publicly that level of confidence.”
Meanwhile, he was also happy with the expansion of services by the Forensic Science Centre, St James, citing the incorporation of ballistic and DNA science.
Hinds boasted, “The Forensic Science Centre, which supports police investigations, has developed several new techniques, and ways, and expansions in the last year and a half, that now leads the detectives of the TTPS to say that they are quite happy with the responses of the FSC.”
Referring to the Active Direct Grid Patrol system, he said the “police are catching up with criminals leaving crime scenes in the act.”
Referencing the recent Carnival security measures, Hinds said, “When I saw for Carnival that blanket of security around the country that worked so well, I can understand why the CoP will feel that level of confidence that she feels.
“She will know the level of training that her officers are undergoing. She will know their level of commitment to standing up and pushing back on criminals in the society. So, in conclusion, all I can say is that I really admire her leadership, and I admire her utterance of confidence, I think for good reason.”
Standing alongside Hinds was TTPS corporate communications manager Joanne Archie, who echoed his confidence in Harewood-Christopher.
She said, “The Commissioner, she is in the driver’s seat and she is certainly not driving alone. She has a very strong team…executive, with her.”
Referring to the many initiatives, some of which the public were unaware of, Archie added, “I am also sure of, with what she has indicated that she will be putting in place, that she will have some successes and what she sought to do, was to allay the fears because it is not just about reducing crime, but the fear of crime.”
Both Hinds and Archie called on citizens to continue working with the TTPS to provide information about untoward activities and criminal behaviour.
Asked about the investigation into the allegations of human trafficking allegedly involving Opposition members, but may include public servants, Hinds commended Harewood-Christopher for launching a probe.
“The investigation is ongoing. I understand that statements have been made available from interested parties, and contributors and that continues. And I am just prepared to wait on the outcome of that,” he said.
Pressed to respond to claims by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the current administration had been involved in a smear campaign to bring down her government during the time she was Prime Minister – and had employed an Israeli firm to hack into her email –, Hinds said this was not the first time Persad-Bissessar, “had made some commentaries about that.”
“She has lost credibility really. I don’t think the people around her believe her. I mean today (yesterday), I heard her on the radio carrying on about injustice and all kinds of things…I mean her credibility is so thin, so frail, I don’t even think it warrants further comment.”
Hinds was at the facility as Vision on Mission (VOM) Chief Executive Officer Giselle Chance announced a plan for the reintegration of 100 inmates from five prisons over the next eight months.
Hinds endorsed the collaborative venture between the T&T Prison Service and VOM, titled 2023 Preparation for Success.
He said the many programmes offered by the Prison Service and those available to persons outside the prison meant there was no shortage of opportunities.