Police defend 21st Century Initiative
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Wednesday, July 4 2012
A SHOWDOWN may very well be looming between new National Security Minister Jack Warner and Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs, over the 21st Century Policing Initiative which is the brainchild of Gibbs, but which has been roundly criticised by Warner.
Despite Warner’s public statements opposing the initiative, Gibbs appears prepared and resolute in pressing on with it. So much so, that at yesterday’s daily police press briefing, a spokesperson for the Police Service defended Gibbs’ initiative.
Police Service Public Relations Officer ASP Joanne Archie yesterday said that within Western Division — where the initiative was launched on a trial basis — there has been a reduction in serious crimes by 31 percent over the past three months.
Shortly after he was appointed the new National Security Minister as part of the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Warner said he was opposed to Gibbs’ initiative which has as one of its features, the closure of police stations during off-peak hours (after 6 pm).
Warner has said publicly that two state buildings which must never be closed and must always be accessible to members of the public at any hour are police stations and hospitals.
Yesterday, Archie said there was a 47 percent decrease in murders, a 43 percent decrease in house larceny and a 40 percent decrease in vehicular larceny. Archie said there have been challenges, but that the Police Service would continue to review strategies depending on these statistics. The initiative is expected to be rolled on in phases in the other police divisions in the country.
She also confirmed that the new Anti-Gang Unit was operational and conducting investigations and gathering intelligence as it was important to have evidence to charge persons under the Anti-Gang Act. This comes after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan recently condemned police inaction in enforcing the Act.
Archie said the Unit was also involved in the dismantling of gangs and giving lectures to members of various communities on the Anti-gang Act. Archie also sought to clear several issues which she described as, “incorrect information being circulated in the media.”
She said it was claimed that the Police Service was not honouring its financial responsibilities. Archie said the Service spent $11.8 million to handle payments of medical expenses of police officers and has allocated $8.2 million more to do so.
“The problem experienced stems from issues such as: bills sent are incorrect with respect to invoicing and other relevant information being omitted. As such, bills sent to the Finance Branch must be thoroughly reviewed before payments are made,” Archie said.
On another issue, with regard to promotions, Archie noted there were claims that about 500 constables are frustrated as they await promotion to the rank of Corporal. She said statements were made that there was no consistency in the treatment of officers in the Service.
However, she countered by saying more than 300 officers of various ranks have been promoted over the past year.
In addition, Archie said there were statements in the media, that the Police Service Social and Welfare claimed their suggestions to Gibbs were not being implemented. She noted that monthly meetings are held with the Executive and various Police Service stakeholders but members of the association were inconsistent in attendance.
“The Commissioner is committed to having an open door policy with all stakeholders within the TTPS and the association’s members are aware that they are welcome to meet the Commissioner at any time,” Archie said.