CoP Gary Griffith is convinced the introduction of new and innovative policies, some of which are intelligence-driven, have contributed in a meaningful way to a decrease in homicides between September and October.
Up until yesterday, the murder toll stood at 459. Griffith said every effort is being made to reduce homicides.
The new anti-crime initiatives worked well when he assumed office, he said, and he believes that with more policies being rolled out, the country will reap the desired results. Griffith says the level of murders can only change with the transformation of the police. “It cannot just be more patrols, more roadblocks. I am turning the TTPS into an intelligence-driven one,” Griffith said, adding that the ultimate barometer of a country’s crime status is homicide.
He said in every situation there will be some loopholes but the intention is to plug those loopholes to make the country safer. “I cannot reveal some of the intelligence-driven initiatives introduced to deal with murders, but I can assure the country that they will see some results,” he promised.
He said there had been a reduction every month for the past three months and his intention is to get back to “acceptable levels” of fewer than 150 murders a year, which was the case way back in 2000 and 2001. He recalled that in May, June and July this year homicides increased compared to last year: “about 17 per cent for May, 20-something per cent in June and 50-something per cent in July.” In August, there was a five per cent reduction in homicides, 23 per cent in September and for October, a 27 per cent reduction.
“So there has been a drastic reduction compared to last year when (the annual figure) was 495.”
He is “ fighting heavily now,” he said, “because we have a system which has not been the appropriate method to deal with curbing homicides.”
Griffith also said more intelligence-driven policing, as well as Tasers and pepper sprays, body cameras for police, the revamping of the E999 system, cameras in police vehicles, a new cold case unit, better customer training for police are among the policies which will help them and the country. Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran did not wish to comment yesterday on the spike in murders. He said it needed to be carefully analysed before any comment is made and promised to do so at a later date.
There has also been a recent announcement of a new elite unit to tackle white-collar crime in T&T and promises that the “Big Fish” will be arrested and brought to justice. Griffith is assuring that it will not be a unit engaging in witch-hunt.
The Financial Intelligence Division (FID) with subunits from Financial Intelligence Bureau, Fraud Squad, Professional Standards Bureau, elements of Organised Crime Intelligence Unit, and Cyber Crime Unit will be merged to form the new unit to tackle white-collar crime. This unit is to ensure a more effective arm of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to deal with such crimes and at a faster basis.
It would also ensure better sharing of data between these units and likewise, between TTPS and other units in the Ministry of National Security.
Griffith said that he intends to acquire local and international expertise to improve the capability of this division. He also plans to do a massive injection in our legal department by appointing a head of the Legal Department and a few others to ensure that TTPS tightens up to prevent any loopholes that can be used by persons if charged, as well as an international prosecutorial team to do likewise.
Griffith states that while the TTPS is an independent body, they need to liaise with different external agencies to maximise our effectiveness, inclusive of the NSC, Chief Justice, DPP, PCA, and office of the AG.