(Trinidad Express) There are 77 police stations spread throughout Trinidad and Tobago, manned by 2,300 police officers.
But do we need so many police stations?
According to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, the answer is no.
Speaking at a community meeting at Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation yesterday, Griffith said he intends to reduce the number of police station to about 30.
And soon citizens would have no reason to visit police stations as reports can be filed online.
Griffith said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) was moving to a transformative approach to policing in T&T with the use of modern technology.
He said the TTPS intends to reduce the number of police stations to maximise the number of police officers on the streets.
This revelation raised concerns among citizens of Rio Claro and Mayaro. But Griffith noted that not every constituency would be affected by the move.
“But when I speak about this, I mean let us look at Port of Spain. Maraval (police station) is about five minutes’ drive to St Clair station, then three minutes to the Police Academy, then two minutes to St James station, then four minutes’ drive to Four Roads station, then three minutes’ drive to Diego Martin. There is about nine stations in Port of Spain that you can use a bicycle and get to all the stations in the space of an hour — that is madness,” he said.
Griffith said he was trying to transform the Police Service so that officers are out of the stations policing.
“But it would not affect this constituency (Mayaro), I promise you that. What it would do is maximise the number of visible presence through the Emergency Response Patrol in Eastern Division,” he said.
At a community meeting in Oropouche East last week, Griffith said he was liaising with the British High Commission and the United States Embassy.
“Because of the working relationship we have with the British High Commission and the US Embassy, and I am looking at the best practice used, it is actually used right now by the London Metropolitan Police, so what we are trying to do is get a template to be able to ascertain how best we can fit it into the needs and concerns in Trinidad and Tobago.
“By doing that, it will play a very big part in reducing the number of persons who have to go to the police station to report a crime. It is just online reporting. There will still be situations where few persons will have to go to a police station, but my concept is less police stations will allow more police officers (on the streets) and less need for citizens to have to go to a police station will mean that we will not have to put too much focus on the stations but be able to do more policing outside,” he said.
Griffith said when reports are made, they will be filtered to the relevant units such as fraud, cyber crime, domestic and so on, to ensure these units investigate.