Tobago will soon have its own Anti-Corruption Investigation Unit office, equipped with the resources to take on corrupt politicians and other matters involving fraud.
Former Tobago ACP William Nurse shared this with Newsday in a sit-down interview on Tuesday at the Divisional Headquarters, Riverside Plaza, Port of Spain.
Nurse, who now heads the Port of Spain and Western Divisions, after being transferred from the Tobago Division a month ago, said he was satisfied with what he was able to accomplish during the year he served in Tobago.
Of all the issues plaguing Tobago police, Nurse said one major focus was encouraging officers to improve their investigating style.
He said Tobago police must evolve as criminals find new ways to carry out crimes. And though they are doing well at reducing gun violence, drugs and other serious crimes, Nurse said they must also learn to probe crimes involving politicians.
“What I have found is that politicians are very strange people, very, on either side of the divide. I simply will tell police officers, be very careful where politicians are concerned. Keep your policing as far away as possible from them.
“I would like to see officers not taking sides. I would like to see good investigation, excellent investigation."
He said during his time there he had not received any reports specifically against any Tobago politicians.
But, he said, “There was a particular case that came to my attention and I had to take it and send it to Fraud Squad to investigate, because it could not be investigated in Tobago, and clearly the police officers involved were taking sides. So I had to take it away from them and send it to Trinidad.
“I don’t like that, because Tobago is a small community, and officers should be man enough to operate without fear or favour.”
He said every police officer has the power to investigate anybody, "Whether it is the President, the prime minister – is any politician, and they are not exempted. But because these matters are very complex we refer them to those that are specialised in these investigations.”
Crimes involving the use of government funds are referred to the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau.
“What we have been working on over time," Nurse explained, "is to have one of those units stationed in Tobago."
He said during his time in Tobago as head of the division he contacted the US embassy to give several officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department training in fraud investigation.
They will prepare these officers for the arrival of the Tobago Anti-Corruption Investigation Unit.
“Once that happens, it will put Tobago in a much better place." He said ordinary police anywhere in the service might not have the technical competency needed to investigate fraud matters, especially complex fraud.
He said a location for the unit has already been identified and approved.
He urged other Tobago police to prepare themselves.
“I’ve always said to Tobago police officers to do research, you will see a difference in your policing life. You will have an intolerance for corruption.”
The Tobago Division is now headed by ACP Daniel Moore, brother of former Tobago ACP Garfield Moore.