|TOP COPS MUST TAKE THE LEAD |
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, January 3 2016
Despite the anti-crime initiatives that have been implemented in Trinidad and Tobago over the years, retiring Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham says there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned policing.
“Senior officers have to get out from behind their desks and hit the ground,” Abraham declared yesterday, after the country recorded its third murder for the new year.
Abraham, who turns 60 in October, proceeded on pre-retirement leave on Thursday, leaving behind a distinguished career spanning some 38 years. He was last assigned to the Port-of-Spain Division after having made his mark as an ace lawman in the Central Division.
Although he acknowledged the need for administrative staff to effectively manage the police divisions, Abraham said senior officers must lead from in front.
“If they do not do that, nothing will happen. It is like a parent sending their children in the garden, you have to go with them,” he told Sunday Newsday.
“If a young man comes into the police Service at age 18, he is inexperienced.
He don’t know anything about work. He is at a loss but it is left to the seniors to guide them.” This philosophy, Abraham said, enabled him to be a dominant and respected force within the Central Division, where he had served two stints, from 1978 (when he first entered the Police Service) to 2002 and then from 2010 to last October, when he was transferred to the Port-of- Spain Division.
Abraham said he had also worked for about eight years in Homicide from 2002.
With his signature khaki-coloured straw hat and folksy manner, Abraham carved out a reputation as an approachable, yet fearless and determined crime-fighter.
While he has been likened, in some respects, to late Police Commissioner Randolph Burroughs, who often employed brash and unconventional methods to solve crime, Abraham offered a more congenial demeanour that won the respect of not only peers and charges but even the criminals.
“I have been a good policeman because of the way in which I have carried myself and how I treat the young officers, with respect. I always get it back,” he said.
Born in Brasso, Caparo, in 1956, the last of 11 children, Abraham, like many in his day, entered the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service with no academic qualifications.
“I just had a school leaving certificate,” said the father of five.
His ascent through the ranks of the Police Service, he felt, was fuelled by his desire to connect with the people.
“I am always on the ground with the officers. That is where most of my achievements have been, in the marijuana fields. I hate sitting down in an office,” he said of his experience in the fight against drug trafficking.
Throughout his career, Abraham said he has never once been afraid of the criminal element, even in the face of adversity.
Rather, he said he sought consistently to forge friendships with all and sundry, cognisant of the fact even the “least among us” can provide a tip to solving a crime.
“When I drive, I always have my car glass down. Sesame Street (children’s’ television series) has taught me that you need to meet the people in your neighbourhood — the coconut vendor, the schoolboy, the doubles lady. You know how many people I have given a drop in my car,” he said.
“If someone is ‘hoity toity’ they can never make a good policeman.”