CoP shrugs off criticism, vows to work harder

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher examines the documents of a driver during her tour-of-duty with her fellow officers in different police districts.  - Photo courtesy TTPS
Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher examines the documents of a driver during her tour-of-duty with her fellow officers in different police districts. - Photo courtesy TTPS

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IN the face of sustained public criticism, Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher, in her first public statement since the second extension of her post, says she has laid "a solid foundation" in her first year in office "that has already begun to yield results."

Harewood-Christopher, 62, whose appointment was approved by Cabinet on May 13, has been the subject of significant criticism as the murder rate continues to spiral as gang violence spreads to new communities.

Below is the full text of her statement:

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher, right, and other police officials examine weapons found and seized earlier that day during an exercise in Santa Cruz. - Photo courtesy TTPS

"My service as Commissioner of Police is based on my commitment to the realisation of the vision of the TTPS “To make every place in Trinidad and Tobago safe.”

That is a challenge that has been confronting us as a nation for some time, long before I assumed the office of Commissioner of Police, and it is one that I am determined to overcome.

I view this extension as a continuation of my lifelong service to protect and serve with pride. And I am prepared to continue to do so as long as I see the evidence that I can make a difference.

I welcome this opportunity to continue because in my first year as CoP I have been able to lay a solid foundation that has already begun to yield results. Continuing in the role will provide me the opportunity to further embed these and other strategic initiatives that I am optimistic will produce the improvement and the relief that the population is demanding from the TTPS.

Policing is not static. The criminal element will not stand still while law enforcement progresses. It is our ongoing challenge to disable and restrict those with a propensity for criminal activities.

It is not an easy task, but neither is it a task that I am intimidated by. Policing is what I know, and what I have done faithfully for all my working life.

In the current environment I have no expectation that I will not be criticised. Apparently it comes with the territory. That will not however be allowed to diminish my strength of conviction to act and make decisions in accordance with what I believe to be right and proper in any circumstance. It will be useful, however, if as a society if in examining the root cause and motivation for crime if we can agree that crime is a societal problem and that the police alone cannot solve the national crime problem.

I have said this before. Unfortunately too much of what we see and hear in the public domain is not about building or constructively working towards a solution. Instead, too often it’s about finding fault, criticism and condemnation, often devoid of facts or of a basic understanding of what is in issue. Providing more heat than light.

But it is a fact that the extent to which we succeed or fail is very dependent on the availability of intelligence and information which is directly related to individuals co-operating with the police to solve crime in their communities. My wish and expectation is that as we continue to build our integrity we will enjoy to a greater extent the trust and confidence of the population.

The achievements of the TTPS are often overlooked or understated. I am grateful that the Police Service Commission was sensitive and very discerning of the work that has been done over the past year to effect sustainable institutional change and improve the functioning of the organisation.

I wish to express my gratitude to the executive and the entire rank and file of the TTPS for the support that I have received in my role as commissioner of Police.

I also thank the many stakeholders who continue to support our efforts and for the confidence they have reposed in my ability to get the job done."

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher speaks with a grieving relative of one of the four men killed in a shooting incident at Powder Magazine Phase 1, Cocorite, on May 4. The commissioner and senior members of her executive visited the community on May 5. - Photo by Venessa Mohammed


"CoP shrugs off criticism, vows to work harder"

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