Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says there are plans to use technology to improve security in Tobago.
At the launch of I Support Our Service in Tobago, at the Apex Bar and Grill, Bon Accord yesterday Griffith said he recognises crime against tourists is a major issue there, and this will be a focus point.
“What we are doing is looking at the threats, looking at what would cause an individual to target tourists and by doing that what could be done to provide a deterrent. There are a number of things we are already aware of that would be done. My focus is also is to have Tobago remain as locked down as possible and to improve on it.”
He says he is ready to meet with all the island’s stakeholders, both private and the Tobago House of Assembly, next week, and will be working towards preventing the migration of criminals to Tobago.
He added the police have not taken the safety of Tobago for granted, despite its very low level of crime when compared to Trinidad. He said, “It would mean that I would not have to keep pumping all resources in Tobago. So we keep Tobago on a lockdown and improve the quality of security in Tobago. It will play a very good part in helping Trinidad as well: a safer Tobago is a safer Trinidad.”
He told Tobagonians they could expect shortly to see an air unit, emergency response control and a revamp of the emergency 999 system, “where Tobago calls will no longer go to Trinidad and then be transferred to Tobago’s police service. The call will be linked directly to the operational command centre in Tobago.” This operations centre will be moved from Scarborough to the newly commissioned Shirvan Road police station and Tobago will have a new emergency response number within two months, Griffith said. He said cameras will be installed in a number of areas and will be monitored consistently, so that there will be an immediate emergency response patrol.
The ISOS initiative was established on December 2, when citizens, public and private organisations were called on to assist the police. Griffith said this initiative is not focused on injecting funds to build or refurbish police stations and buy new equipment but to build a stronger relationship between the police and the public. A number of Tobago stakeholders from the business community gathered at the launch.
“Before we can demand your respect, we want to show we deserve it, through the way we interact with you and handle your issues. We can reduce crime, but it cannot be done with the police service feeling, ‘We are here to enforce the law and you must obey.’ We are getting police to change the way we deal with persons, we are putting immense resources to get police officers to understand their role and function. We will put our lives on the line to protect strangers. All we ask for is the chance, the respect and trust.”
Griffith believes this behavioural change will bridge the gap between the public and the police service. He said this initiative will bring hope back to citizens. The CoP also called on the public to play a vital role in the lives of young people by becoming positive mentors, saying he received complaints from young people about a lack of mentors, role models and opportunities.
“It’s up to the public, business sector and police to try and get these young persons to understand that is not the way to go, and if you provide them with these opportunities, they can change. We need to change their mindset, and all this is where the ISOS will come in.”