National Security Minister tells new police officers: Rise up to the challenge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Recruits celebrate during the TTPS passing-out parade at the Police Academy, St James Barracks on May 29. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds called on the latest cohort of police officers to “rise to the challenge” during May 29’s induction ceremony.

Welcoming 156 new officers into the ranks of the police, Hinds emphasised their role in upholding public safety and national security.

“This profession does not want weakness, it wants strength, honour, intellect, courage and integrity.”

Echoing these sentiments, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher said, “You are joining the ranks of the service at a time when policing is attracting a lot of attention. The effectiveness of the service is being challenged.

“The integrity of officers is under scrutiny. The competence of officers is being questioned. You must be determined to make a difference. You must be determined to make things better.”

Harewood-Christopher said the officers’ new positions in law enforcement requires them to conduct themselves beyond reproach.

“You must be an example of conduct. You need now to seriously consider the associations you maintain, the places you go, and the activities you engage in.”

She urged officers to not allow temptations to compromise their reputation and integrity.

“You will face challenges and difficult choices. There will be moments of danger and uncertainty. In those times, rely on your training, lean on your fellow officers, and remember the oath you have taken.”

Recruits perform their drill on the parade square during the TTPS passing-out parade at the Police Academy, St James Barracks on May 29. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Hinds said while he felt proud to see so many youths joining the service, he lamented the youths who in other dark spaces were being “initiated, indoctrinated and encouraged into the ‘nothingness’ and the ‘emptiness’ of the world of crime and grime.”

Hinds said while the police service was one aspect of the criminal justice system, it was only one aspect of national life.

“The institution of the family, in which parenting is a significant component, is equally, if not more important, towards this goal of peace, good order, and justice.”

He added that officers must also work to maintain the public’s trust.

“You must continue to keep focused on winning and maintaining public trust and confidence.

“Not simply trust, from the standpoint of integrity, but also from the standpoint of your capacity and professionalism, particularly, your capacity to solve crimes.”

He said once the public interacted with police officers, they must be ensured they are the “real deal.”

Hinds encouraged the new recruits to rely on their training as opposed to the “voices of ignorance and populism.”

“You will not be moved by voices telling you to ‘shoot to kill’; and telling you that you need power and laws.”

“Instead,” he said, “you will forever hear the voice of your instructor telling you to, ‘Use no more force than is absolutely necessary,’ and saying to you: ‘Follow the law and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago!’”

Recruits march on the parade square during the TTPS passing-out parade at the Police Academy, St James Barracks on May 29. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Speaking with Newsday, Navin Lall Saroop, a new recruit said growing up in a hotspot area piqued his interest in law enforcement.

“Before I became an officer, I went to UWI where I got my BSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice. After graduation, I went on to do another degree in law.”

Navin said he aimed to add to the strength of the police and help contribute to national security.

Navin’s mother said although she was worried about the path her son chose, she said she would support him no matter what.

“I was a little bit apprehensive about him coming to us with the idea but I am absolutely proud of him for pursuing it.”