CoP: Police won’t condone poor customer service

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher – File photo by Lincoln Holder

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher (CoP) has said poor customer service will not be condoned in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

Her remarks come after a 40-second audio clip of an interaction apparently between an officer at the St Joseph Police Station and an unidentified man who is contacting the station to make a report.

The clip starts with the man saying his wife called E-999 two hours earlier about a home robbery and was told the emergency service would contact the station on their behalf. He says no one has called him or his wife since.

The officer responds, “Okay, so wah allyuh doing, sitting down home an waiting fuh de police to call allyuh? You doh know where de station is?”

The man then says, “Excuse?”

The officer repeats, “Do you know where St Joseph Station is? So why allyuh doh come in and make a formal report?”

The audio goes silent for a few seconds before the man says, “Thanks, ma’am.”

In the CoP’s Facebook release on Friday morning, she says, “The TTPS has been investing substantially in improving its service delivery to the public and strongly condemns any instance of poor customer service by police officers during the conduct of their duties. Any instance of poor customer service will be deemed unacceptable and will not be condoned.”

Harewood-Christopher said the police service strives for professionalism in all areas of its operations and will continue to provide ongoing customer service training to all officers to ensure the public receives service of the highest quality.

“Senior officers at all police stations are responsible for ensuring all reports made, whether by telephone or in person, are accurately and immediately recorded and that officers take prompt action where necessary.”

The statement advises the public to speak with an officer in charge if they believe their reports are not being taken and ends with Harewood-Christopher saying the incident is being investigated, with appropriate disciplinary action to follow.

“We again apologise to the victim in the matter and the public, every effort will be made to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.”

In a WhatsApp conversation on Friday with Newsday, the president of the Police Social and Welfare Association, acting ASP Gideon Dickson, said the association cannot and will not condone any demonstration of unprofessional behaviour that brings the organisation into disrepute.

“Efforts are being made daily to improve our engagement with the public by thousands of officers, and it is rather unfortunate within our organisation that there are a few whose negative interactions tend to label the entire service. Our disciplinary processes should remedy this instance.”

Dickson said ongoing customer care training is currently being rolled out in various divisions.

“Firstly, our officers need to appreciate in this profession we are providing a service. Secondly, embrace our acronym, PRIDE, in all that we do: Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligent and Excellence.”

He stressed that communication is the lifeline of society and the bridge between people, which counteracts race,class, ethnicity and profession, saying better can be done using words and actions to build relationships with people as opposed to hurting others.

“We have to embrace technology for all the right reasons on and off the job and utilise the mediums for more effective communication while striving to regain public trust and confidence as captured in our strategic goals.”

Head of the Professional Standards Bureau, Snr Supt Suzette Martin, spoke with Newsday by phone on Friday and reminded officers to be respectful when dealing with the public.

She said the matter has already been referred to the Police Complaints Authority to be investigated. She said it was not a criminal matter but an internal disciplinary one.