CoP ‘unsatisfied’ by 5% murder-rate decrease in 2023

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Erla Harewood-Christopher. – ROGER JACOB

WHILE she commended police, stakeholders and the general public for their assistance in combating crime in 2023 to achieve a five per cent reduction in the murder rate, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher says she is not satisfied with it.

In her New Year’s Day message to Trinidad and Tobago, the top cop said the total number of murders in TT was 576, compared to 605 in 2022.

She called it a “significant achievement” but added, “While a daily homicide count is maintained, there is no statistic that conveys to what extent effective police operations have prevented crime.”

She said while a five per cent reduction might be considered small, had the murder rate increased by five per cent, “there (would) be no hesitation in pronouncing an increase.

“Similarly, if there is a decrease of the same magnitude, we should, likewise, be unambiguous in acknowledging that decrease.”

However, she sought to make it clear that while the 576 tally was not acceptable, it “certainly is” an improvement.

“This achievement is no indication that I am satisfied or that the TTPS is complacent about the admittedly limited progress that we have made in 2023.

“In fact, to the contrary, it is my resolve to increase our efforts to develop and implement more innovative strategies that will deliver the results we are targeting in our anti-crime initiatives.”

The murder rate decrease, she said, can be credited to detailed planning, clinical implementation and community involvement, which will intensify and be improved upon.

“We are confident that the results are a testament that our strategies are having an impact.”

Harewood-Christopher said illegal firearms continue to pose “the gravest threat” to the public as criminals have become more brazen and show no regard for public safety and sanctity of life, including that of children.

Because of this, the police will be “unrelenting” in ridding the country of illegal firearms as each one seized means “multiple lives being saved.”

She added that the police’s intelligence machinery has been “outstanding” in efforts to reduce transnational crime including human trafficking and child prostitution, as well as dismantling local and regional drug trafficking, among other things.

“I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made in our partnerships and engagements with our stakeholders, and with the implementation of the several initiatives aimed at building community relationships.”

This, she said, will continue in efforts to build public trust.

She said there was no statistic that showed how much worse the crime situation could be in TT if not for police intervention.

“Yet this is an essential effort that consumes a substantial amount of policing resources on a daily basis that goes seemingly unobserved and unappreciated.

“Understanding the value of this very important work, we will continue to perform it diligently in the interest of the safety and security of all our citizens.”

She said she agreed that every life lost was “one life too many” and the police accepted that reducing the homicide rate was “out most urgent mandate and will be our continuing biggest challenge to address in 2024.”

The police, she said, believes in continuous improvement and remain committed to getting the job done. This is why, she added, the police was already mobilising resources and “sharply focused on building our capacity and competence to intensify our efforts in order to mount a formidable offence against this national scourge.

“We give the citizens of our beloved country the assurance that the officers of the TTPS will show up for work every day, determined to exert our very best efforts to provide the relief that the public demands and deserves.

“In doing so, we accept your criticism but we also do welcome your support.”

She invited the public to “be a part of the solution” for 2024.

TT’s murder toll for 2024 currently stands at two. A man was shot and killed in Belmont while another was gunned down in Tobago on Monday.