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Trust in police at all-time low

Cops on patrol in Port-of-Spain.

Cops on patrol in Port-of-Spain.

PORT OF SPAIN — Spiralling crime and increased mistrust in the Police Service have brought to the fore several questions, such as how capable police officers really are and whether or not the organisation really has been transformed, as ministers of national security and commissioners of police have promised.

Almost eight years after government shelled out close to $80 million to Professor Stephen Mastrofski, the organisation is still in dire need of change, said Acting Inspector Anand Ramesar, president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association. He said despite the acquisition of modern vehicles, technology and the establishment of model stations, the public’s trust in the service and the detection rate were at an all-time low.

The Police Transformation Project began in August 2004 and was headed by a team under the leadership of Mastrofski, chair of the Department of Administration of Justice and director of the Centre for Justice Leadership and Management at George Mason University in the United States, the Government Information Services web site stated.

Mastrofski and his team were assigned the task of implementing an organisational development project, aimed at increasing the leadership and management capabilities of the Police Service, so as to enhance its effectiveness in the fight against crime. Under the watch of former national security minister Martin Joseph, five model stations were also instituted in West End, Morvant, Arouca, Chaguanas and San Fernando.

The aim was to change the way in which police did business and to bridge the gap between the police and the public.

The current strength of the Police Service, Ramesar said, was approximately 5,500, with an additional strength of approximately 1,000 Special Reserve Police Officers. He said the sanctioned strength of the service should be at least 7,000. Speaking in Parliament last Friday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said there were 7,715 officers but only about 2,000 were usually on duty at any time.

Out of the total, Ramesar said nearly 100 officers had degrees, adding that within the last two years 20 to 30 had graduated as attorneys. Just over half have stayed in the service. Others, he said, also pursued postgraduate courses in various disciplines, including management. Despite their academic qualifications they have not been placed in suitable posts but kept in their substantive positions. This, Ramesar said, was a major factor which had resulted in the defeat of the transformation process. (Guardian)

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