Police union: Devise plan for cops to work smarter, not harder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Heavily armed police patrol Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain.

AS acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob seeks to reduce the spiralling crime rate, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association ASP Gideon Dickson hopes Jacob’s crime plan allows officers to work smarter and not harder. Jacob plans to increase police presence in crime hotspots bedevilled with gang rivalry. At a news conference on Tuesday, Jacob said there would be more roadblocks and stop-and-search exercises as well as increased patrols as part of a series of measures to deal with crime. He said manpower has been doubled at the Western, Port of Spain, North Eastern, Central and Southern police divisions. To assist with this major operation, an additional 60 police officers have been called out to duty and all leave requests had been cancelled to get “more boots on the ground.” In response, Dickson said crime needs a multifaceted, interagency approach. He said it seems all hopes to deal with crime rest on the backs of the 7,000 officers holding the service together. He hopes a pool of recruits from the Police Academy will strengthen these ground operations over the next four months. “We want all our agencies to be working in sync with each other. We have to work smarter as opposed to working harder. We already have limited resources, so we have to use these limited resources to the best to optimise service delivery.” And even with limited resources and unsatisfactory salaries, Dickson said police will not abandon the call to duty. “Police have not and will not shy away from our responsibilities. But in the same breath police have been making significant strides to try to curb the criminal situation.

“However, it is not a job that the police alone could do. “We have just been going, going, going and going. It is only so far human beings can go. Police keep getting the blame, but we must remember policing comes at the back of the fallout of society. So when the school break down and community break down and the church break down, police deal with it.” Dickson said he hoped the willingness of officers to go beyond the call of duty, once again, but this time to deal with crime as a public health emergency, will earn them the fair wages and improved working conditions his union has been clamouring for. “Our leave has been restricted since December 2019. It is only within the last three months officers were able to get back to a level of normalcy where leave is concerned.

“That would have impacted both the health and wellness of the officers and also even their family life, because we have been working constantly without any relief.

“So we wouldn’t want to use that as our first option. That must be our last option in terms of restricting officers’ leave.”