IN HIS first press conference as National Security Minister, Fitzgerald Hinds acknowledged there were kinks in the armour of the national security apparatus as he called on security heads to deal with rogue elements who can undermine the hard work being done to secure this country.
Speaking from his ministry in Port of Spain on Sunday, as he was flanked by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and Chief of Defence Staff Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel, Hinds also called on members of the protective services to "step up your game," just as "your leaders have," adding that more can be done.
He made the call as he referred to the challenges in tackling the influx of drugs, guns and illegal migrants. "I believe the police, the defence force and our intelligence agencies have some more capacity inside of us.
"I think we can give more, do more all down the way to the ranks because there are many who are still probably in those units not operating at full throttle.
"My call is today: men and women in national security who are sworn and paid to conduct exercises in the protection of the people who are suffering with trauma and pain, you need to step up your game. You need to do like your leaders. That is what I would like to see."
Hinds said while the front-line officers had a responsibility to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities, the leaders of the different arms of the protective services had a responsibility to root out the corrupt and rogue elements from within their ranks.
He called on both Griffith and Daniel to do their part in removing corrupt officers and warned that failure to do so could jeopardise the safety and security of the nation.
"I expect the leadership of these organisations to take action, boldly, forcefully and swiftly to deal with those Achilles heels, these soft underbellies, thee kinks in the armour that render all our investment, all your work valueless, because of their complicity."
Hinds admitted that while he is charged with directing government policy and resources to the protective services, the leaders of different national security agencies have a more demanding job in co-ordinating manpower and executing operations.
Griffith said the police service will continue to treat with rogue officers as he noted the introduction of polygraph testing to officers assigned in the southwestern peninsula. He also called on the public to use technology to report illegal activities and corrupt lawmen with the same enthusiasm as they would police-involved shootings.
"How often have we seen a photograph of a vessel and the name of the vessel but all the citizens in these areas go silent? The batteries in their phones died, apparently.
"Not one photograph have we seen of a vessel with the name, and yes, we do have rogue elements in the police...where is the photograph of the police vehicle that is accompanying and escorting these individuals when they land? Where are the names of the people who assist in aiding and abetting illegal entry?"
Griffith said while a sense of patriotism and justice should be the only incentives needed for citizens to report illegal transactions, he would also speak with CrimeStoppers on the possibility of a cash reward being offered for information.
He said over the last three years, 213 Venezuelans have been charged for serious crimes, while last year alone, 533 illegal immigrants were detained in the south western division and 135 for this year thus far.
Commenting on the prevalence of illegal cargo coming to TT, Daniel admitted that the different arms of the defence force face challenges and urged the public to help pass information on to the authorities.
"There is difficulty to guard our borders in 360 degrees. They (migrants) can land on any beach and hold that position. The network that is assisting them to get there will get there with vehicles to get them off (the beach.)
"We need the co-operation of citizens to speak out because somebody is facilitating this. They (migrants) are not walking the streets looking for someone to help them. When they land, somebody would have orchestrated it through phone calls."
Daniel said depending on the speed of the boat, it may take migrants as little as half an hour to reach TT from Venezuela. He said the air guard assisted in securing the borders through fixed wing aircraft and helicopters together with the radar centre.