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TT’s virtual police

By NALINEE SEELAL and ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Thursday, December 26 2013

THE Ministry of National Security will soon be launching a new crime fighting initiative similar to the “555” and “800-TIPS” programme which will allow members of the public who may have information to solve a crime, or are witnesses to crime to sign up with an online programme where they can work alongside police officers in the digital medium to directly tackle crime.

The new programme is called Virtual Police Officer (VIPO).

Yesterday, Minister of National Security Gary Griffith confirmed plans are underway to launch the programme in conjunction with the TT Police Service, and he believes this new initiative will further encourage the public to partner with the police so the fight against crime will be better managed.

Newsday understands that under the programme, a member of the public can go to a website and register as a “police officer” after they have witnessed a crime, and have information which can solve a crime.

An analyst will then pass on this information to the relevant police agencies and the informant will be given the opportunity to interact with the investigator.

If a detection is made and the crime reported is solved, the individual who made the reported would be “handsomely rewarded.”

The Ministry of National Security has already had discussions with the TT Police Service and Welfare Association on this programme.

Yesterday Griffith said this programme was not an attempt to undermine the existing “555” or “800-TIPS” service, but rather, it was another way of bolstering the services, to ensure the fight against crime is taken to higher levels.

“This is just another method to increase the detection rates in solving crimes. So here we are trying to organise an online system where, once a crime has taken place, you take that information and log on to the website, and send that information to the authorities.

No phone calls, so you don’t have to worry about anyone overhearing you or recording you and using that against you, if that was something you were afraid of before.

This is now another means to give the information which is then analysed and passed on to the relevant parties, thus allowing a further level of confidentiality as you will not have to give a name or address, but you would be given a security number, which once the information is verified, you will be credited a sum of money as a reward.

“The reason we are doing this is because there is no such thing as a perfect crime. Every crime is evidenced. Whether it’s through witnesses, or if someone may have information on it, there is always some evidence of a crime. So this is just another medium for citizens to provide information,” Griffith said.

Yesterday, Police Social and Welfare Association president Ag Insp Anand Ramesar said VIPO represented a new era and a new dawn in policing in Trinidad and Tobago and provides a tactical platform to tap into the contribution of the wider public to assist the TTPS in detecting, investigating, and successfully reducing crime of all categories.

“VIPO is new and we are aware that there will be resistance to it on the executive level to the TTPS. Notwithstanding, the Association wishes to take the opportunity to call on the executive to be open minded and understand that there is no monology in solving crime and that the way forward is to understand that contributions and ideas are vested everywhere in society. I also want to congratulate the Ministry of National Security in their vision in so far as the role that VIPO will play,” Ramesar said.

Yesterday the National Security Minister also spent most of his morning visiting the police administration building, the defence force headquarters and the fire services who were on duty yesterday, wishing them a Merry Christmas and the very best for the New Year.

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