Australian police officer Sgt Geoffrey Bernard William Little, who has earned the title of “smiling policeman” across the globe, aroused the curiosity of San Fernandians as he took to the streets of the second city yesterday morning, to demonstrate how the police could be the catalyst to bring about positive changes in the society by being more friendly.
Little, is in Trinidad until September 25, as a part of a peace initiative pilot project which was initiated by the Rotary Club of Princes Town in partnership with the San Fernando City Corporation, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Mediation Board of Trinidad and Tobago.
Prior to the launch of the project at the San Fernando City Auditorium, Little, who is also a Rotary Global History Fellowship Hero, was joined by police of the Southern Division as he directed traffic at Library Corner and interacted with citizens whose curiosity was aroused by the unusual sight of this commanding Caucasian male, dressed in the uniform of the Australian constabulary directing them what to do.
Snr Supt Zamsheed Mohammed of the Southern Division, who was also on the exercise, remarked, “this initiative can strengthen the relationship between the police and the general public. Here we have a smiling policeman all the way from Australia who is demonstrating just by a mere, continuous smile can bring a closer knit between the police and the people. We need more smiling officers,” the cop said as he broke out in a smile.
The usually serious faced cop promised to try his best to keep on smiling, noting, “sometimes, it is the simpliest things that could generate so much impact and something we don’t pay heed to .”
His colleague Ag ACP Mc Donald Jacob, who is a trained mediator, also welcomed the initiative to promote peace in the society. Jacob said while the police are always dealing with crime from an arrest and taking before the courts perspective, it is important that they are continuously trained to deal with basic conflict resolution and interact with the community in a more friendly manner.
“If this is positively promoted, I believe we would have a reduction in conflict in the society, that could result in the reduction of crime. This is quite beneficial to the TTPS.”
While Jacob pointed out that the majority of police were friendly in their dealings with the public, he was reminded about one police officer who is now under investigation for an alleged attack against a media photographer. While not commenting on the particular issue, Jacob said some situations could usually result in people acting in a particular manner.
Little, who in his discourse asked the public to trust the police for their initiative to work, also responded to questions from the local media that trust was lacking.
He said in Australia when there is a bad egg in the police, “we are the first to condemn it. Believe me, we do not enjoy having criminals in uniforms among us. We are very harsh on them. We believe in zero tolerance for corrupt police.”
Little also weighed on the attack against journalists, saying they were putting their lives at great risk to get the stories and warned them to be careful.