Jacob needs to embrace technology – not fear it

Gary Griffith - SUREASH CHOLAI
Gary Griffith - SUREASH CHOLAI


former police commissioner

THERE ARE many with a short memory, inclusive of those who pen editorials in the media, stating that we cannot successfully peg back crime and that the trend has been ongoing for decades.

In my last full year in office (September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021), which was just a year ago, we experienced the highest reduction in every violent crime in decades. The number of murders in that one-year period was 346, the lowest in any one-year period since 2004.

In the following year (September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022) we have experienced the highest increase in violent crime in this country, with this period having 586 murders, the highest in any year period in our history.

And no, covid19 regulations and restrictions were not the cure, as months before this started we saw drastic decreases in such violent crime, inclusive of the Carnival 2020 period. Additionally, in October and November 2021, there was still covid19, state of emergency and restrictions, yet the number of murders in those months was among the highest in decades.

Why? Apart from change of leadership and shutting down efficient systems, dismantling of assets and units and firing qualified staff, there was also the deliberate refusal by acting CoP Mc Donald Jacob to embrace technology and innovative modern law enforcement policies that worked before.

The most recent glaring example was in relation to the deaths of six citizens of this country, two being security officers and four suspects allegedly involved in those killings.

The dedication to duty by our police officers again showed, but unfortunately so too did lack of leadership and the ability to embrace change by Jacob, which could have resulted in this incident not even happening, which is known as predictive policing.

This method was successfully used under my watch by embracing technology and utilising systems to predict possible crime, hence preventing it before it happens.

Through SORT, the TTPS Social Media Unit, which formed part of the Cyber Crime Unit, and high-end technology assisted in anticipating possible major crimes and we then put deterrents or apprehended those who were planning to commit the crime, before it took place.

In this particular incident, the media stated that the weapons used in this crime were brandished about on social media and even comments alluding to the plans to commit such crime were made.

Unfortunately, Jacob saw it fit to dismantle SORT and the Social Media Unit is now virtually non-existent and, most important, the technology that has been delivered to the TTPS to monitor, red-flag and even predict such crime has been shelved by Jacob, as he seems to fear change, as the old-school policing is always to wait for the crime to take place then run after the bandits.

This is one of the main reasons why there were 346 murders in my last year in office, and why under Jacob there have been over 240 murders more. By using the technology provided to predict crime before it took place, and having a specific unit to utilise such equipment and monitor social media, it all led to preventing the crime before it took place.

We established this by liaising with the New York Police Department as they stated that many such gang-related crimes can be predicted, prevented or even solved using social media, with the exact technology that they use and what we presently have, but are not utilising.

In other words, had this type of technology and specific units such as the commissioner's Command Centre and the Social Media Unit been utilised and not shelved or dismantled, the initial crime resulting in the deaths of the two security officers may have been prevented.

To the critics with a short memory, citizens can recall the “a few moments later" days when individuals would show off their weapons and boast about committing crimes on social media, and within a few days, if not hours, they would be apprehended and apologising for their actions. Many saw the humour in it, but many lives were saved and crimes prevented, due to this type of policing.

Those "a few moments later” operations no longer exist as the systems used to do such have been shut down or shelved by Jacob. It was because of this type of predictive policing that dozens of murders were prevented.

It is hoped that whoever replaces Jacob, in the very near future, is not afraid to be proactive and embrace change, including the technology available, because if they don’t and the leadership in the TTPS continues to fear change, it is sadly the law-abiding citizens who will suffer as a result.


"Jacob needs to embrace technology – not fear it"

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