War on crime

Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar, centre, speaks with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, right, during a discussion on crime at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday. Looking on, from left, are Clifton De Coteau, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration; Attorney General Anand Ramlogan; and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar
Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar, centre, speaks with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, right, during a discussion on crime at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday. Looking on, from left, are Clifton De Coteau, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration; Attorney General Anand Ramlogan; and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar

PORT OF SPAIN — A war will be waged against crime, with a wide range of initiatives from the top to the ground, which include finding a new method of selecting a commissioner of police to deploying more law- enforcement manpower on the roads.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday announced a number of crime-fighting measures, following close to three hours of talks with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and his team.

The meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, St. Ann’s started at around 3:30 p.m. and ended just before 6 p.m.

Persad-Bissessar led the government team of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Justice Minister Christlyn Moore, National Diversity Minister Clifton DeCoteau and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar while Rowley was accompanied by Opposition senators Fitzgerald Hinds and Terrence Deyalsingh, and Port of Spain South MP Marlene Mc Donald.

The prime minister, in a news conference following the meeting, said talks with the opposition were no “gimmick” and both sides were committed to working together on all fronts to ensure a collaborative and successful approach in the crime fight.

“I am committed to working with the oppostion … to fight what I see as a war, and this war is on crime and criminals,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Among the initiatives discussed between the government and opposition was the strengthening of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the need to devise a new system for the appointment of a commissioner of police.

As it stands now, the Police Service Commission appoints the CoP based on a system that was introduced under the former People’s National Movement administration.

Teams from the government and the opposition will meet again next week to continue discussions on areas raised at yesterday’s meeting.

While the prime minister spoke of measures her government and the opposition will work on, she announced immediate measures that will be implemented in the crime fight.

This includes the establishment of a rapid-response unit.

Persad-Bissessar said government has given Acting Commissioner Stephen Williams approval to form a rapid-response unit and to purchase 300 new vehicles for the Police Service.

This unit, she said, will consist of response teams and will be equipped with advanced technological devices to improve police response times to crimes that are in progress.

In addition, Persad-Bissessar said officers will be on patrol throughout the length and breadth of the country.

She said the teams initially will be focussed on the most crime-prone areas, and it was expected the unit will be fully operational before the end of the year.

The Prime Minister said special reserve police will undergo specialised training. She said training had already started last June, and the first batch of officers is expected to graduate next month.

While there will be more manpower on the roads, there will also be more eyes on the nation as Persad-Bissessar said the CCTV (closed-circuit television) programme will be expanded from November.

She said as at this month, 873 cameras were installed in areas, including Beetham Estate, Laventille and Tobago.

Proposals are being sent out for central, southern and western areas. (Express)

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