Tobago’s newly appointed ACP Vernon Roberts is focused on reducing crime and the fear of crime, during his time leading the island's police service.
Originally from Canaan, Roberts worked his way up in Tobago from constable to ASP, before he was transferred to Trinidad.
On September 11 he was appointed ACP to the Tobago division when ACP Ansley Garrick retired.
He told Newsday on Thursday his main goal is to ensure security for citizens and tourists, and he intends to achieve that by using proper intelligence.
“We will use an evidence approach to crime-fighting, where we deploy our resources at strategic locations to drive our initiative to reduce crimes,” he said.
He disagreed that Tobago’s division is “easy pickings” when dealing with crime, because of the island’s relatively low crime level. He said this success is due to years of hard work by local police.
“Policing is a dynamic thing. That (easy pickings) may be a perception, but we all have our challenges to deal with, and Tobago is no less important district than any other. The officers work very hard to keep the island safe, and I will push for us to continue our relentless fight to reduce crime.”
He said the Tobago division will focus on monitoring coastal patrols and use intelligence to treat with illegal guns. Roberts intends to increase islandwide exercises to deal with the number of illegal guns on the streets. He also lauded the homicide division.
“One murder is too much in Tobago, so I’m concerned, and I am concerned because the loss of human life is of concern to each citizen to TT.
"We have a pretty good detection rate in Tobago concerning murders. At one time we had a detection rate of 75 per cent solve rate. The officers of the homicide bureau are doing a good job in this area, with the assistance of the other station districts.”
Roberts said police will start a public education programme to encourage Tobagonians to secure their property and belongings properly to prevent larceny.
He said a behavioural change among Tobagonians when dealing with crime is needed because “the landscape has changed and the citizens need to learn how not to make themselves a target.
"By this, I mean learning to properly secure themselves and property by installing cameras, burglarproofing, security lights and generally accepting the fact that the environment has changed and they need to protect themselves.”
He said police will continue to play their part by increasing community patrols.
“When you look at the crime triangle, one thing the suspects look for is an opportunity. Once you move the opportunity by educating citizens and increasing our visibility, we will discourage persons from committing crimes as they desire.”
Roberts said crimes against tourists had decreased and police will continue to work toward preventing another increase of violence against visitors.
“There is a slight decrease, according to the statistics, with crimes against tourists. The last incident, police arrested someone and he is now before the court. It was someone who was known by the victim. This was an unfortunate situation, but we were able to solve that crime and provide the necessary support.”
He said he will also be looking at tackling violent and deviant behaviours in both primary and secondary schools through improving existing educational programmes.