Priest: Police, public must trust, respect each other

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Father David Khan gives his sermon at the police’s annual interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Roger jacob

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher says she is open to a national dialogue with faith-based leaders on crime.

This comes after RC priest Fr David Khan made an open call to the police at its Annual Interfaith Service to have a national dialogue on the matter. The service was held on Sunday morning at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Independence Square, Port of Spain.

Khan said, “If we are really serious about the national dialogue of crime, it is happening in pockets but we really need to bring the brightest people, intelligent in all our intelligent services, they need to sit down with the leaders of faith.

“Then we will see a movement. One cannot do it alone.”

At the start of his sermon, Khan used the story of the three wise men from the New Testament’s Gospel of Matthew to illustrate his point that intelligence and faith needed to work together.

Police officers march down the aisle at the police’s annual interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

He said neither knowledge nor faith alone could find the answers, but needed to work together.

He asked, “If you are a person of intelligence are you willing to sit down with people of faith? If you are a person of faith are you willing to sit down with the people of intelligence?”

Khan said people in this country were no longer African or Indian but sons and daughters of TT.

“We need to live up to our motto: Together we aspire, together we achieve. Every creed and race will find an equal place, if we decide to meet.

“We need the intelligence, the leaders of the people of faith to come to the table, put aside ego and say what is best for TT.”

Khan said he wanted to be proud and also wanted people to stop saying negative things about the country.

“And we can be proud to say, as we were proud in the past, TT is my land and I am proud to be Trinbagonian.”

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher leads a contingent of officers on parade on Independence Square, after the police’s annual interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

Khan also advocated for the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). He said he supported WASA, asking the audience if they knew that most people in the country spent more money on bottled water than paying “the small rate for water which many people waste.”

He said, apart from the TTPS, WASA was a public body that was constantly publicly criticised.

“We have to be serious. If we want to build country, if we want to do our best, let us not complain only,” he said.

“Imagine if every citizen now really trusts and we dedicated to country, you think crime would have any place in this land?”

Khan told police to tell TT to trust them, and for them to trust to the country.

“There are still good men and women who are willing to work with you, work with them. Don’t disrespect them and they will not disrespect you.”

Khan referenced a TV6 opinion poll which asked respondents if they had ever been disrespected by a police officer, and 100 per cent of respondents said yes.

Khan said he wanted to see that same question asked again at the end of this year.

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher speaks at the police’s annual interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

CoP: ‘Tides will turn’

Harewood-Christopher gave a short speech near the end of the service thanking all for attending.

She said the police acknowledged the supremacy of God and the important role God played in the service achieving its mandate.

“The tides will turn and we will see the success we desire,” she said.

She wished all those gathered God’s blessing for 2024 “in divine prosperity.” She said she liked that term because if God brought prosperity to them, they should not be in want.

“We are trusting God for his intervention in all that we do. And Fr Khan, I assure, and I speak even on behalf of my colleagues from the defence staff, that we will accept that call to meet with all faith-based organisations, because we recognise we cannot do it alone.”

During readings and reflections by members of the Islamic, Hindu and Christian faiths, PC Rochford, who represented the Islamic faith, said the public made fun of Harewood-Christopher when she mentioned prayer in the fight against crime last year.

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher holds her hands up in prayer at the police’s annual interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

Rochford said she understood the reality of the time, and what many failed to realise was the fight was not only physical, but a spiritual one.

“The same way we are gathered here to give thanks and praise to a higher entity, no matter our religious persuasion, there are those who, unfortunately, gather and strive in chaos and dysfunctional society.

“But we are the agents of change. When something happens, after God, who do they call? Police.”