Benjamin: Serious crime down 9% in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Acting Snr Supt Earl Elie, head, guard and emergency branch, left, Tobago’s Snr Supt Junior Benjamin, centre, and Snr Supt Oswain Subero of the Inter agency Task Force, at the Shirvan Police Station last month after a meeting to discuss policing during the Tobago carnival. Photo by David Reid

ALTHOUGH Tobago has recorded eight murders for the year so far, acting Snr Supt, Tobago Division, Junior Benjamin, says police have been able to bring the rate of serious crime down by nine per cent when compared to the corresponding period last year.

However, he revealed there has been a marked decline in Tobago’s criminal detection rate over the same period.

“Our detection rate is about 41 per cent, which is lower than last year. But when you compare the 41 per cent across all of the divisions, we are still the second highest in detection rates,” he said.

Benjamin, who is also a pastor, was speaking on Sunday at a thanksgiving service for Tobago Division police officers at the Maranatha Christian Assembly, Montgomery Junction, Bethel.

He recalled when he assumed the position in June 2021, serious crime was two per cent above what the island had recorded the previous year.

“But by the time I ended the year, in 2021, we brought it down to minus four (per cent). We had at that time, I think, a healthy detection date of about 51 per cent, and we were able to carry that to 54 per cent at the end of the year.

“This year, we started very rocky in terms of the crimes from January. However, we were able to incrementally work on those numbers with our strategies, and at this time we are about minus nine per cent.

“That, to me, is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Benjamin, who goes on vacation this week, said he hosted the service to thank the officers who worked with him over the past year.

Saying the Tobago Division has had successes and challenges over the period, Benjamin added that its performance during the recently concluded Tobago carnival was especially commendable.

“God is good all the time. And that is why it is so important that we understand that as a people, as a division, the strength is not in the uniform you wear. Your strength is not in the firearm you carry, but they that know their God shall be strong and do great exploits.”

He said the Tobago Division has benefited from several training programmes and also got five new vehicles to add to its fleet, and there is much to be thankful for.

He told the officers, “You cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. When you learn to be thankful, you learn to appreciate what you have and stop looking at what you don’t have…God is looking for people who have an attitude of gratitude.”

Benjamin believes he is leaving the division a little better than when he met it.

Acting Assistant Supt Karen Stewart-Duncan, who also spoke, urged officers to do some introspection.

“Coming out of covid19 and all of the loss we have experienced, let it be a wake-up call for us, that point in our lives when we choose to make a difference and do things differently, when we choose to act differently,” she said.

“When you take off your uniform – who are you?

“When you sign that paper that says you are retiring from the service – who are you?

“When you go home to your family in the evening – who are you?

“That determines who you are. Not the badge and uniform, because these things are temporary. So I want to encourage you this evening to do some introspection.”