POLICE will now have the edge in the fight against crime, with the commissioning of the newly constructed Shirvan Road police station, says Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack.
As National Security Minister Stuart Young cut the ribbon on Monday to open the police station, Jack reminded the public of the importance of the $59.8 million investment.
He said, "The criminals are getting more clever, sophisticated and brave. Even as we speak, they are finding new innovate ways to commit violations against businesses and society. It is important for us to also find innovative ways to fight crime. It is important that we leverage the use of technology in our efforts to keep this island and this country safe."
The police station, formerly the Old Grange police station, will now house all CID units, the Child Protection Unit, Emergency Response Patrol (ERP) 999 call centre, a juvenile booking station and a 24-hour CCTV control centre, which will monitor schools, businesses, government buildings, high-risk areas, highways and roadways via a network of cameras.
Jack said the station, with its modern technological equipment, can play a significant role towards building and developing the security of the island and improve the efficiency of the police.
"This technological approach can impact positively on our efforts to improve safety and security not only in Tobago, but also in Trinidad. We must adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any deviant behaviour in our space; we must uphold the tradition in Tobago of being our brother’s keeper as we seek to maintain and preserve our unique environment. It is important we all recognise there is a direct link between the level of safety and security and the long-term viability of our island's tourism product. All our marketing, all our investments may come to naught if we don't keep our island safe."
He added it is up to the citizens of the island, and especially the police, to maintain a safe island for all visitors.
Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe, who was present,described Monday as a memorable moment for Tobago. She recalled advocating between 2010 and 2015 for the start of the construction of the Roxborough and Old Grange stations.
She also commended officers attached to the Old Grange station for their patience and commitment while working under challenging conditions.
“This facility will go a long way in serving the people of Tobago. The police officer’s duty is to protect and serve, but sometimes we don’t go the distance to ensure those who protect and serve us are comfortable.”
Young saidthe government had made another great decision with the construction of two modern police stations in Tobago. He described the Shirvan Road station and the soon-to-be-completed Roxborough station as the best in the Caribbean, which he said was part of building a new culture in the service.
“Throughout the police service a revolution is taking place; a re-energisation of the police service is happening in our national security apparatus that is very positive. As the Minister of National Security, I’m proud to meet the men and women in this service, and I assure the public the service will continue to get better.”
He pleaded with Tobago police to maintain the facility.
“You are leading the way as you have done in many areas. What I’ll like to see is, after spending billions of dollars on brand-new infrastructure, it continues to be properly maintained. We can’t spend the thousands of dollars to maintain it after. Tobago, I expect you take the charge and show the rest of us in Trinidad how it is supposed to be done,” he said.
ACP Sharon Blake-Clarke, speaking on behalf of Commissioner Gary Griffith, described the occasion as an important part of the thrust towards the transformation of the service. She said the key to this transformation was well trained officers, coupled with the use of modern technology.
The station, which is expected to serve thousands in over 11 villages and communities in the west of the island, is expected to make a great impact on enhancing the safety, security and quality of life of Tobago.
She said the newly established ERP centre will assist with rapid police response and visibility to hinder criminal activity.
"The aim is to provide greater proficiency, transparency and accountability in policing, in order to boost the public confidence in the police service," the ACP said, adding, "The ERP is based on a strategic deployment of technologically equipped vehicles that are directly linked to a command centre, with both CCTV coverage and real-time footage from the cameras outfitted on the vehicles."
She also announced the coming of a Commissioner of Police football league among police youth clubs throughout the country. Scholarships will be awarded to the best players through the Football Factory Foundation of the UN.