Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob. –
Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said on Sunday he was confident the police were ready for the lifting of the state of emergency (SoE) on Wednesday.
He was asked about the fears of some business owners that the end of the SoE could bring a surge in crime beyond the control of the police whose ranks might be stressed and depleted by the covid19 pandemic.
Jacob replied, “No, no, no, no, no!
“We are properly prepared and we don’t think it will have any upsurge per se because we have things under control.
“And I want the press to stop being so pessimistic and be more optimistic.
“What we are doing is we have the regulations that will be controlling things. People will be able to move a little more freely after the hours. However, we and the Defence Force have things under control.”
Mc Donald said the police did not have any significant shortfall in staffing.
Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, on Sunday, insisted the 2021 SoE was never meant to be a crime-fighting initiative or related to crime.
“The state of emergency was used to allow a reduction of movement which is an accepted scientific response to the management of the spread of covid19.
“As the Honourable Prime Minister reminded the population yesterday (Saturday), the state of emergency was used to assist the country in its vaccination drive, by reducing movement whilst the vaccination programme was rolled out increasing the levels of vaccination. We have over 600,000 fully vaccinated persons and I hope that the unvaccinated amongst us will vaccinate.”
“The regulations enacted under the SoE were not targeting crime and a reduction of crime.
“The TTPS is not legally toothless in carrying out its mandate of tackling criminality. The current laws provide our law enforcement agencies with many tools in their fight against crime and they will continue to apply these laws.”
Police Social and Welfare Association head Gideon Dixon said crime was an evolving phenomenon of which the police had to try to stay ahead.
As to a possible spike, he said, “We can’t speak to that at this point in time. We have no data to compare it against.” However, he hoped an increased police visibility, enhanced investigative powers and a growth in trust and confidence by the public during the pandemic, would all help the police.
Dixon said as of last Friday, some 16 officers had died from covid19. He said that out of 6,800 officers, some 360 were now under quarantine. Of these, 74 officers had tested positive for covid19, while the others were isolated for suspected exposure. Since last year March, some 4,848 members had been isolated for confirmed or suspected covid19, most of whom have since returned to work, Dixon said.
“The data suggests that in the middle of a pandemic we are still keeping the frontline stable.We are still out there working feverishly. I highly commend my officers.”
He said his officers were performing well despite limitations, in terms of being paid a salary only at a 2013 level and not having a better medical plan than public servants. Lamenting that some officers wait years after retirement before being paid a pension or gratuity, he urged this state of affairs be addressed to boost morale among serving officers and to help avert burnout in the face of current stresses on the job. “Our leave was restricted since December 2019. I commend my officers for holding the fort.”