Police have solved 41 murders for the year, thanks to newly adopted processes, including technology and intelligence, as well as a reorganisation of crime scene investigation teams.The murder toll for the year stands at 252 as compared to 299 last year.
"First five months of the year, we have been able to charge more people for murder than we did for all of last year. Not by vaps but by proper intelligence gathering, reorganisation of crime scene investigation team, use of technology and human intelligence (witnesses). This shows we are in the right direction," Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said in a media briefing Monday at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain. This improved detection will be a deterrent to criminals, he added.
Deputy commissioner for intelligence and investigations McDonald Jacob, who oversees the programme, echoed Griffith's sentiments.
"In the first four and a half months for 2020, we had solved 20 murders but from middle of May to date we have solved 21 murders, showing a 100 per cent improvement in our detection rate. This co-ordinated approach ensured our technology and scientific people worked together as a team. This has brought significant results. It has been working so well that for the year we have had 47 fewer murders than last year. We continue with that improvement."
The homicide support team played a major role together with the investigations, as well as legal officers, who were directly involved. Members of the public also provided support and he noted that the police looks forward to more. After the briefing the TTPS rewarded 23 police officers who aided in solving seven homicides this year, including Kenneth and Lilawatie Mackhan, who were killed on May 18; Guimar Jose, Rausseo Marcano, Darnel Mitchell, Jose Serrano and Aaron George, who were found dead in an agricultural field in New Grant on May 25; and a double murder in Tobago on June 5 when brothers Kelton and Kenwin were killed in Les Coteaux.
Griffith and Jacob defended the results, even though these 41 resolutions represented a less than 20 per cent detection rate of the murders committed for the year so far. "A (100 per cent detection rate) only works on TV," Griffith said. One of the main things is human intelligence because there was no such thing as the perfect crime – someone would have seen or heard something. "We welcome the fact of what took place in the (Morvant police killings in on June 27) where people were able to send in their (CCTV and cellphone footage). But it should be done for all shootings not just the ones police are involved in," he said.
Jacob noted that there were 59 murders solved this year, but 19 were matters from last year or the year before. "Murder investigations take time because we have to depend on scientific evidence, which may take a while to be processed. So you will find murders committed earlier this year may be solved by September. We are indicating to you that we are improving." He noted that of the 41, many were gang-related, some were drug related, revenge or retaliation, while in between there would have been domestic killings.
The Cold Case unit is also being involved, he said. "No murder is closed, so the next time I appear here, I will be talking about more murders," he said. He also clarified that a murder was considered solved when people were charged and matters were pending before the court, not convictions.