Police intend to focus on dismantling criminal gangs, recovering illegal guns and going after white-collar criminals using every tool in their arsenal this year.
Acting CoP McDonald Jacob, in his first press briefing for the year said on Friday at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, an average of almost 60 per cent of murders every year is linked to gang warfare, while domestic violence and altercations account for another 30 per cent.
He gave the murder statistics for the past four years – 523, 539, 399 and 449 – saying the average stood between 430 and 440 people being killed a year.
Jacob said the statistics show there is need for more in-depth analysis to deal with murders as well as shootings and woundings.
Hesaid the police have teamed up with a group of lawyers in the Community Justice Clinic to help reduce instances of civil disputes, such as property disputes, landlord and tenant disagreements, before they turn deadly.
But he admitted there was still a major problem with criminal gangs, which left hundreds of men between 16-29 dead in the past years.
"We intend to maximise the use of the anti-gang legalisation," he said and noted the Homicide Bureau had some success recently in charging offenders for multiple murders. Last year, 89 people were charged with murder.
Police seized 680 illegal guns and over 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition, Jacob said a total of 976 people were charged with possession of illegal guns and related offences last year.
He said the focus on getting illegal guns off the streets will not only target legal ports but also examine the operations of security firms, licensed gun dealers, legal firearm users, shooting ranges and firearm trainers.
Jacob said there are too many guns in Trinidad and Tobago, and there are gaps in the legal system that need to be tightened up.
The focus on guns, both legal and illegal, he said, is to prevent the guns and ammunition being used by criminals.
Jacob said the Financial Investigative Bureau will play a greater role in combating white-collar crime, such as money laundering, unexplained wealth linked to illegal quarrying, and trade in guns and drugs. That unit is also leading the probe into allegations of criminal conduct in granting legal guns, while a separate audit by a group of retired police is still under way.
Acting Deputy CoP Erla Christopher announced a new measure to peg back murders and violent crime in the Northern Division, which has the highest crime rate, by dividing the division into two, with more resources being deployed to protect 510,000 households.
One senior superintendent will lead Northern Division North, in charge of Arima, Pinto, Cumuto, La Horquetta, Maloney and San Rafael stations, while another will lead Northern Division North/Central, in charge of the Arouca, Maracas, St Joseph, Piarco and Tunapuna stations.