CoP: 15 per cent drop in violent crime

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

COMMISSIONER of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher says there has been a 15 per cent decrease in violent crimes from last year to this year.

She made this statement during a meeting with members of the Parliament’s National Security Joint Select Committee at the Red House, Port of Spain on Monday.

Harewood-Christopher identified murders, kidnappings and sexual offences as some categories of violent crime.

JSC chairman, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, SC, asked if there had been any decrease in the levels of violent crime.

Harewood-Christopher said, “I am pleased to report that as of today we have a reduction in our violent crime. We have a 15 per cent reduction.”

She provided JSC members with some crime statistics from last year to January to July.

Harewood-Christopher added that the police’s crime reduction targets were set by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

“In terms of a reduction in murders, the target ten per cent. We have moved from 301 in 2023, unfortunately to 299, so we just have a one per cent decrease.”

In terms of serious reported crimes, Harewood-Christopher said,”We are at a seven per cent reduction from 7,026 in 2023 to 5,803 in 2024.”

The police set a target of 20 per cent for its detection rate.

She said the detection rate for murders was ten per cent at the time.

“For 2024, we have been successful in detecting and charging 50 persons for 49 murders committed.”

Harewood-Christopher said of those 49 murders, 31 were committed this year.

She lamented that “as of today, we have two reports of kidnapping for the year of 2024 compared to one last year.”

Harewood-Christopher said that was a 100 per cent increase.

Deputy Commissioner (operations) Junior Benjamin said the police had been exploring ways to ensure its resources were properly deployed across the country to deal with crime.

He added that while the average time it took for the police to respond to calls from the public about crime was 15 minutes, efforts were being made to reduce the response time to ten minutes.

Deputy Commissioner (intelligence) Suzette Martin said, “We are dismantling criminal gangs and gang-related activities.”

She added that assistant police commissioners in the various divisions in TT were being held accountable by the police’s executive for what happened in their divisions.

Deputy Commissioner (administration) Natasha George said police were working to improve its technological capabilities and working with other national security agencies on a cyber-security policy to protect its systems from cyber attacks.

She identified police youth clubs as one of several initiatives the police were using to address violence in schools.

On the issue of body cameras for police officers, Harewood-Christopher said officers were mandated to wear them in the field.

But she was unable to answer a question from Independent Senator Dr Paul Richards about whether the police officers who killed four suspects allegedly involved in the kidnapping of doubles vendor Anisha Hosein in May, were wearing body cameras.

The suspects were killed in a shootout in a forested area in St Augustine after Hosein was released.

On the issue of outstanding back pay for police officers, Harewood-Christopher said approximately 1,500 officers had not received their back pay.

She was optimistic that the matter would be resolved within the next three months.