US vice president Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley after a meeting at the White House on January 31. – Photo courtesy US vice president Kamala Harris Facebook page
THE Prime Minister promised on February 2 to hold a news briefing on the state of the country’s crime February 6 at 10.30 am at Whitehall, Port of Spain.
He was addressing reporters at Whitehall after his return the night before from Washington DC where he had met US officials including Vice President Kamala Harris.
Reporters had sought to ask Dr Rowley about Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher-Harewood’s lacklustre performance on January 31 at Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security which was chaired by Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, where she admitted to not meeting her 11 initial targets of crime reduction.
The PM replied, “Let me put it this way: That calls for a whole press conference by itself.
“I have given you so much today that is so important to the people of Trinidad and Tobago that I would not want to colour it with anything else.
“But I want to invite you to a press conference on national security on Tuesday morning at 10.30. Let’s talk national security on Tuesday morning.”
During the first post Cabinet press briefing on January 18, the Prime Minister came to commissioner Harewood-Christopher’s defence saying that bashing the top cop does not help deal with the crime situation.
According to a Newsday online report, the PM said the commissioner needed support rather than ridicule. He said other people knew about crime and criminality in the country so those who were part of the problem should keep quiet.
“(They) mightn’t be your favourite, mightn’t be his favourite, but the bottom line is that is the person who, for a period of time, is required to run the Police Service. I don’t think it helps to try to get yourself in the news every night by shouting down everything negative about the Commissioner of Police.
“She needs our support. If it was a ‘he,’ he needs our support because the situation is, that is the person who we’ve put there to do that job,” Rowley said on January 18.
At the JSC stting, after having admitted to clearly not meeting her target of a 20 per cent reduction in murders – which she said turned out to be only a five per cent drop – Christopher-Harewood said her targets were deliberately set high so as to motivate police. She said she would not do this again.