Acting CoP: Prudent leaders put measures in place for their absence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob. –

ACTING Commissioner of Police (CoP) Mc Donald Jacob now has three deputies and can sleep soundly during his 35 days of vacation, which took effect from Thursday.

The police announced Jacob’s temporary departure in a media release on Wednesday, after a ceremony at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, where Jacob presented Ramnarine Samaroo and Curt Simon with their instruments of appointment to the rank of acting DCP.

The third acting DCP, Erla Christopher, will take over in his absence.

Newsday spoke with Jacob on Thursday to ask him about concerns over the timing of his vacation, with the country’s murder toll at a record high of 565 at the time of the interview.

“I could understand and appreciate why people would be questioning (the timing),” he replied. “But I’m in a position – this is the first time in two years that I’ve taken leave, and for the first time I have the opportunity with three DCPs there.

“When I had one (DCP), taking vacation was very difficult. (and the) crime landscape has been very difficult.”

Newsday asked where he planned to go on his vacation, if anywhere. He responded, tongue-in-cheek, “Tell people ah going up Mayaro, ah going Toco, Tobago…You can’t (say) that – it’s a security risk.”

Jacob said as he has accumulated leave, he must take it now or lose it.

He said he has earned it, too.

“During this time (as acting CoP), I got the opportunity to put a lot of initiatives in place and get things organised. So I am confident that the commander of the different divisions and other sections will do the job with the systems put in place.

“Any prudent leader who serves for a period and puts systems in place could afford to not be around for a little while, and things (are) supposed to still run effectively.

He said, within the past year patrols have increased and been more effective. The police are also on track to receive the rest of a fleet of 150 new vehicles by the end of the year. Thirty will be on the road by next week, he said, and an additional 30 by Christmas.

“People say I concentrate only on patrols, but patrolling is the front-line to policing.

“People will know so much work I’ve done and the scientific and technological side of it. We have developed investigative teams (leading to) 125 people charged for murder this year, so I believe we have systems in place (so) that I can afford to go on leave and things will hold tight and I know my officers will continue doing the work.

The vehicles and other police technology and equipment would have arrived and implemented quicker but for delays caused by the pandemic, he said.

“(I’ve) designed a whole plan with the Active Directed Grid Patrol System that I’ve been using for the last month and now is activated in most of the divisions.”

The system is designed to improve police response to crimes in progress.

Jacob admitted, though, that crime statistics would not have been as worrying had the police been better equipped since his appointment.

“We could have had a greater impact (on crime) this year if all the resources I talked about were in (our) possession since the beginning of the year,” he said.

The grid-patrol system, he said, “worked well,” with a suspect being apprehended in the double murder and wounding of three officers, during the robbery of an armed courier at Pennywise, La Romaine, in November, and other incidents.

In the police service media statement on Wednesday, Jacob, in welcoming the acting DCPs, said the move came at an “opportune time.

“While I am on leave,” he was reported as telling them, “I am confident that the commitment and dedication you have demonstrated over the past months will continue. You have shown me that you are fully invested and fully aware of your responsibilities.

“Through our collective years of experience, we understand that crime is not a static phenomenon, therefore as a necessity, we must keep evolving and strategising, always seeking to adopt and inculcate best practices into our operations, if we are to win the war against crime.”

He said having two more DCPs appointed to the executive team means the policeare in a “good position in terms of leadership and expertise.”

Samaroo and Simon’s acting-DCP appointments were approved on December 2.