Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher at the symposium co-hosted by the UWI Trade and Development Unit and the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers, St Augustine on March 31. – Roger Jacob
Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher on Friday detailed her 10-point plan to reduce crime.
She was speaking at a symposium co-hosted by the UWI Trade and Development Unit and the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers at the Teaching and Learning Complex, UWI, St Augustine.
Among her initiatives will be precision policing, focusing the resources of the police to address violent crime, dismantling of gangs by using precision policing and legislation, targeting communities with high reports of crime and retrieval of illegal guns.
For this year, police have recovered 185 guns for the year and 6,334 rounds of ammunition.
She also plans on focusing on transnational crime by using available resources targeting gun and drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime.
She said her two-year plan will also see police enhancing its intelligence gathering capabilities and greater use of technology in police operations.
“We will improve our efficiency and effectiveness by optimising our existing technological capabilities, both internal and external and invest more to close the gaps in our technological capabilities.”
Looking inward, the top cop said she aims to fix the negative perception of police officers to build police legitimacy, public trust and confidence.
And she will adopt a zero-tolerance on police involved in criminality.
“We will work to create a cadre of officers that the public can trust to act with integrity and do the right thing always and to treat them fairly and respectfully and punish errant behaviour.”
She said the police will also increase visibility with direct patrols in hotspots which will improve roadway management to target offenders.
Harewood-Christopher called on people to partner with the police to address crime saying: “We will build relationships with key stakeholders including the public, community groups, business organisations, religious groups, schools, NGOs, etc. And will conduct community needs assessment and develop and implement policing and strategies and tactics that are appropriate to the particular community.”
Crime fighting needs a holistic approach, she said, including divine attention. She doubled down on a previous call for spirituality to assist in the fight against crime. Without God, she said, the police will not be able to do its job efficiently.
At a joint select committee (JSC) on National Security in March, Harewood-Christopher promised to reduce murders by June in the short term and by December in the long term. Last year, the country recorded its highest ever murder toll of 605.
Harewood-Christopher was confirmed as the substantive CoP in February and had been acting in the top post since early December 2022.
On Friday, Harewood-Christopher said the barometer used to measure the success or failure of the police has been and continues to be the murder toll. For this year, 142 people have been murdered, the toll for the comparable period last year was 132.
Also speaking at Friday’s meeting was economist Prof Roger Hosein who linked low economic activity to increased murders.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds who spoke after Hosein disagreed with his correlation between low economic activity and crime. Instead, he linked crime and more so violent crime to violent movies with pornography.
He said while the jury is still out for him on the cause of crime, children are exposed to tremendous amount of crime on a daily basis as he recalled seeing a violent movie while on a three-hour bus ride with the police commissioner and others. In the movie, he said, the gun was the star and obscenity the co-star.
These things are having some effect, he said. He said government has placed border security as a top priority to curb the illegal importation of guns which is causing the high murder rate.