(Trinidad Guardian) Police posts in crime-ridden communities will soon be replaced by more patrols by more police officers.
Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs yesterday identified this measure as part of a new anti-crime strategy. The plan is also aimed at building better relations with communities and ultimately increasing public confidence. The top cop has also come out in strong defence of the 21st-century policing initiative, saying it was a move away from colonial-era police work. Gibbs was fielding questions from members of the media after yesterday’s opening ceremony of a training course on combating illicit firearms trafficking.
The course was launched at the Police Academy, St James. After Mt D’Or resident Atiba Duncan was shot dead by police two weeks ago, there was outrage, with some residents of the area demanding a police post. Gibbs, however, described the use of police posts as reverting to “colonial days.” He said a core element of the 21st-century model was to build capacity on the street, to ensure there were more officers in particular areas to respond more quickly and effectively to the demands of the community. “In these areas…to go back to the colonial model, where we put police posts in the neighbourhoods, actually diminishes our capacity to be there for the community, because we end up having to guard the police post and not spend the time addressing the issues or the problems that the community may have,” Gibbs said.
Referring to protests over Duncan’s killing, Gibbs maintained that concerns would be “championed” by the police.
Saying there were nine police divisions within the Police Service, Gibbs said each area would be examined to determine its particular needs. He added: “We look into each division for its own uniqueness in terms of what is required to do the best policing we can. “So there would be some collapse of posts. Some would be turned into service centres with limited hours so that we would still have the capability of people walking in and getting help, if that’s what they required,” Gibbs added. He appealed to citizens, however, to make greater use of the established hotlines, including E-999. He added: “We would go to them and we go to them quickly. (It’s not that) they have to wait until something takes place and then go to a police post to find out that it’s after the fact and all we can do is take a report. “We want to be on scene, we want to be with the community so we can actually help to mediate any of the kinds of disorder or crime problems that people may be facing.”