NPTA head asks CoP, ACP: What are your strategies for fighting crime in Tobago?

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National PTA president Walter Stewart presents a token to Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher at the NPTA mid year convention at the Lowlands Multipurpose Centre, Lowlands on May 25. –

NATIONAL Parent-Teacher Association (NPTA) president Walter Stewart has called on the leadership of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to outline some of its measures for combatting crime in Tobago.

Addressing the NPTA’s 64th Mid-Year Convention on May 25 at the Hampden/Lowlands Multipurpose Facility, Stewart said the association was very concerned about the murders and other violent crimes taking place on the island.

He directed his remarks to Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher and head of the Tobago Division, ACP Collis Hazel. Harewood-Christopher delivered the feature address while Hazel presided over the installation of the new NPTA members.

Noting that Tobago recorded 14 murders in 2023, Stewart feared that if the murders continue it could surpass last year’s figure.

“So ACP and commissioner we will want to hear the measures, strategies and systems to be put in place in order to mitigate and stem the rising, escalating tide of crime and criminal activity taking place right here in our beautiful island of Tobago,” he said.

Stewart, a Tobagonian, said 40 years ago, he could have slept with the doors and windows open at his house on the island.

“You think in 2024, I could be so foolish to do that. A million times, no. So that crime needs to be addressed with alacrity in Tobago as a means of urgency.”

He observed guns were the weapons of choice to commit murders.

“Where are these guns coming from in Tobago?”

Stewart complained about the lax security at the Port of Spain port.

He said before he driving his car onto the ferry in Port of Spain last year to come to Tobago, he pulled his car trunk so that it could be searched “because I felt it was the automatic thing to do.”

But he said the attendant told him it was not necessary.

“If you do that for 20 people, probably ten of those have something stashed away in their trunk, even one might have and might be able to cause harm and mayhem in Tobago with the one person.”

Stewart continued, “We have to ensure that there is a tight security system between Trinidad and Tobago in order to ensure that the guns that are so infiltrating us here in Tobago are reduced.

“What about the containers coming into Trinidad and Tobago? Are they comprehensively searched because these are coming from somewhere. We also have to look at our porous borders.”

Stewart, who was elected NPTA president on November 11, 2023, also called on churches to be more vocal about crime.

He recalled many people had laughed at the police commissioner when she suggested months ago that prayer be used as one of the strategies to combat crime.

But he said, “Many things can be accomplished if watered with prayer and with fasting. And crime, I might say, is one of those. The churches are extremely silent at this time on the issue of crime and criminal activity not only in Tobago but in Trinidad and Tobago.

“As such, I want to charge the churches, the mandirs and the mosques, every time you congregate, every time you meet, every time you assemble, put aside ten minutes, put aside 15 minutes in order to pray for our commissioner, in order to pray for our ACP, in order to pray for our law enforcement that God will give them the direction and the intel in order to ensure that they can combat the rising spate of crime in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Saying that crime was everybody’s business, Stewart also urged the public to speak out on criminal activities in their communities.

“If you know something, say something. If you heart something, say something. If you see something, say something. Because Mrs Erla Christopher and her team cannot do it alone.”

He said while the ideal is to have a police officer stationed in every house in Trinidad and Tobago, “It is woefully impossible. It cannot happen.”

“But if we use our eyes, our ears and anonymously inform the TTPS, we are not only going to be having more boots on the ground but more eyes and ears on the ground in order to assist the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service with this rising tide of crime that almost wants to overtake Trinidad and Tobago.”

Stewart said the law-abiding citizens outweigh the criminals.

“We are more than those who are out there committing the crime. It is a small minority of Trinbagonians who are causing the havoc. And as such we can bring out the whole army of those who are law-abiding in order to ensure that we help the TTPS with this situation.”

The theme of the convention was Restore, Rebuild, Rebrand.