Unless secondary crime prevention is implemented quickly, T&T could be saddled with more than 100,000 new criminals in the next five years. That was the warning from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith when he addressed a meeting of the Chaguanas Interagency Team on Wednesday night.
Griffith referred to a recent social media video of a group of teenagers and children walking through Nelson Street, Port-of -Spain, mimicking gangsters.
“You can’t write off these young people and say it’s a lost cause, it’s not. It’s similar to the 12-year-old that threatened to kill me,” he said, adding that such situations were the “product of our society where certain adults now…the 5000 gang members have been pushing this style on to our young people.”
Griffith said while law enforcement units currently have numerical and tactical superiority, this could change in five years if secondary crime prevention measures are not strengthened.
He added: “We need to work together as a team to deal with that aspect of secondary crime prevention. The more we work in secondary crime prevention, the less is required in primary crime prevention which is where the policing comes in.
“Having said that I will do my job dealing with primary crime prevention. It is really important for us not to look at secondary crime prevention, not as a secondary commodity. It’s so important. If we do not deal with this situation now, in years to come we will be outnumbered because of what we are seeing with certain young persons in society. They are looking up at these individuals and are seeing them as the Robin Hoods of the community.
“This is why I speak to you here. You will be aware who are the thugs, who are the punks, who are the gang members, who are the persons on the street corners who are trying to influence young persons into a life of crime because it’s easy to influence young minds.”
The Commissioner said initiatives as the police youth clubs and community policing will be strengthened. He also pointed out that his meetings with community and business groups should be about much more than trying to offload crime plans and make requests for a firearms license.
Griffith said he is dealing with 13,000 applications for firearms licenses and will be acting within the law to issue them to successful applications.
On the issue of police response to criminal activity, he announced that ten emergency response patrol vehicles will be assigned specifically to the Central Division to respond directly to calls from an operational centre.