Residents of Goodwood say they have no confidence in Tobago police because of unkept promises to deal with serious crimes in the area as well as poor and unfair customer service at the Roxborough Police Station.
President of the Goodwood Village Council, Alice Franklyn, speaking at a police town meeting last week Wednesday at the community centre, said police must be honest and truthful if they wanted co-operation and held from villagers.
Franklyn noted that, for one, there has been no follow to issues discussed at the last police town meeting held in the village.
"We got no follow up so that’s why I think we have a low turnout tonight. I had the privilege of being a part of the National Crime Prevention Programme, and I am hoping even after this meeting we will get the assistance promised.
“If we want to talk crime prevention and to have a decrease in crime, we need officers to be honest and truthful to their promises and you will get our help," she said.
Eric Williams, another Goodwood resident, was moved to shed tears, as recounted how his children have been victims of harassment for over a year , that despite making several reports to various police officers at the Roxborough police station, he has gotten no redress.
William said he has lost all confidence in the police to assist his family. “Thirty-two years my wife has supported the Independence Day March Past, and this year she didn’t take part because our family has no confidence in the police, that is what allyuh brought us to,” he lamented.
Newly appointed Senior Supt Jeffery George promised to provide the best service to residents of Goodwood and all communities in Tobago during his tenure.
“We are here to serve the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, so you have a lot of say in what we must do.
“The new mandate is to partner with you to help us improve how we can carry about our function. The new Commissioner is very high when coming to respect by officers to the public. We want you to remember it is now mandatory that every police officer must produce their identification card when interacting with members of the public and failure to do so will result in disciplinary charge.
This is not the same policing as before," George said.
Reporting a 19 percent decrease in serious crimes with 38 percent solved and that four of Tobago’s seven murders for 2018 has been solved, he said:
"So what I can say is Tobago police are doing well. My focus is to improve the service of the TTPS in Tobago so you will be definitely getting feedback. But in order to start this footstep of trust I have an open door policy.
“We are going to blend a mixture of proactive policing, that is reaching out to the community, with the reality policing, responding to reports. We need your cooperation to support this goal since crime continues to increase because people don’t want to make it their business.
Residents also called for police officers to collaborate with churches on the island to deal with problems affecting communities, including motivating young people,
Marlon David, representative for Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, speaking at the vent, recommended that the police collaborate with social institutions to engage delinquent young people for rehabilitation instead of jail time.
“What happens is that when a young man is a first-time offender who’s going into a system that does not cater for reformation or rehabilitation, many times these young people come out worse than they went in,” said David.
“We need to form a partnership where we engage the churches and sports clubs where we can reach young people. In this way we can focus on rehabilitation. I don’t think any officer wants to spend his entire career running down bandits and fighting criminals. We want to know that the protection part is there, but the service part is what we need to focus on getting into the community,” he added.
George agreed to his recommendation but reminded the Goodwood community that “there is a change of the culture of the community and I don’t think children or even parents attend churches anymore.
“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to erase crime.”
Resident Elizabeth Stewart-Petal also suggested that if the church becomes more involved in the community, there will be a decrease in crime.
“What can the police do to draw the church into this fight against crime? How can the church and police come together…? Stewart-Petal asked.
In response, Supt Sterling Roberts said there were existing programmes by the police available to all institutions, including churches. Roberts said officers attached to different units were permitted to go into the churches, once requested, to do lectures and expositions.
He invited to churches to request any unit to visit and engage the youth in discussion and other activities during service.