(Trinidad Guardian) Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says delayed response time by officers is expected to become a thing of the past.
Speaking at the launch of the T&T Police Service’s Emergency Response Unit at the Police Training Academy in St James on Thursday, Griffith said the new unit would allow police to respond to a distress calls within three to five minutes of them being made.
“No longer would citizens complain of calling and having to wait 20 minutes for them (E999 call centre) to call a station to send a vehicle,” Griffith said as he admitted the effects of the new unit would only be experienced within a few weeks.
The project will be first tested in the Western and Port-of-Spain Divisions before being extended to the other seven divisions across T&T.
According to Griffith, the unit, which will be equipped with over 60 state-of-the-art vehicles, is an improvement on the previous Rapid Response Unit (RRU). It will be managed by two new operations centres which have been established to coordinate the TTPS’s response to reports.
“This is not cosmetic, you would be seeing it and feeling it. You would know for a fact that the TTPS is moving forward in the right direction,” Griffith said.
He explained that each of the new vehicles will be equipped with GPS technology, cameras and tablet devices.
The GPS will not only allow the TTPS to monitor the locations of its officers but also enable them to reassign personnel who may be working within a short distance of reported incidents. In terms of the cameras, Griffith said they will provide a real-time video feed to the command centres.
“So the operational commanders can see what is happening on the ground and analyse what is required if the situation escalates,” Griffith said, as he noted some of the new vehicles were utilised during last weekend’s devastating flooding across Trinidad.
He said the tablets will allow the command centres to provide its officers with detailed briefs on the reports before they arrive on the scene. Griffith noted too that the officers who were selected to join the unit were trained in customer service, firearms, crime scene management, dispute resolution, offensive and defensive driving and on the TTPS’s new minimum use of force policy.
“People have been calling for better service from the TTPS and I assure you we are listening,” Griffith said.
Speaking at the event, National Security Minister Stuart Young said the Government fully supported the initiatives being introduced by Griffith.
“At the end of the day, you are the ones in the front lines. We recognise that and support you,” he said.
Young said the Government also supported the planned introduction of non-lethal weapons such as tasers, pepper spray and rubber bullets.
“We would be foolish as citizens to bury our heads in sand on what is going on out there,” Young said.