Veteran officer: Cops must hit the streets to better fight crime

Roger Alexander -
Roger Alexander -

ACTING Snr Supt Roger Alexander says more police need to be street smart to effectively tackle crime. He believes those he calls "office police" will be "swallowed by the streets" if they do not get more proactive.

He made the comment during an interview with Canadian YouTuber Chris Must List in a video uploaded on Sunday. It was titled Inside the Mind of Roger Alexander: Interview with Trinidad’s Top Cop.

In the 46-minute video, Alexander, who is on vacation leave for the next two-and-a-half years, spoke about a range of topics including gangs, police body cameras and the state of the country's police service.

"I'm as real as it gets," he told the YouTuber.

He said he had been a police officer for 31 years and joined the field as he was impressed and intrigued by crime investigations.

He urged those considering the profession: "You have to like it to be in it. If you don't like this (and) actually have a love for it, then you wasting your time."

Some people join the police service seeking employment, while others join to build a career, Alexander explained.

He believes TT police need to "up their game," but made it clear those efforts must be supported by laws which allowed them to effectively do their jobs, and "the motivation must come from within the corridors of the police service...

"When that starts to happen, we might see a difference or a change in the attitude of the policeman."

He also slammed officers who were not as observant as they ought to be.

"Let's say you and I are moving in a vehicle and I'm on my phone...(There is) a man running up to a building with a gun in his hand and you (the police) only waiting until the radio say something happens and then respond.

"You have to be proactive and not reactive."

He added, "If you're a police officer behind the desk in TT, you're lost. The streets will swallow you. You have to be a street-cop to understand what's going on here."

Speaking to Newsday on Monday, Alexander said if an officer "does not engage" with "the streets, the barber, the tailor, the gangster, then he will know nothing.

"You cannot understand the streets from the office."

He also believes law-abiding people from communities should be working with the police to tackle crime.

He said if a robbery happened somewhere in San Fernando, the getaway car should not be able to reach Morvant, so too from Tunapuna to St Joseph, and so on.

"(Officers), get out from the offices. What is happening in the offices?

"If you are out on the streets tackling crime, there will be less (sic) crimes to report and there would be no need for over 100 police in offices."

He added that many younger police officers were so distracted by phones and social media when on active duty, that they did not carry out their job as thoroughly.

"We used to have a skill in the service called keen power of observation and very few police have that now. They are so distracted by phones.

"You mean you went out on duty all day and you come back and say everything was well and fine, there were no problems, you did not come across anything?"

He believes police patrols used to be a lot more effective before the emergence of social media.

In the video, Alexander told the YouTuber TT was slowly "heading down" the same road as Haiti, which is plagued by gang violence.

"Whether people like it or not, the reality is the gangs are here."

He added while some believe law enforcement could just "wake up one morning and get rid of them (gangs)...

"It don't work like that."

Chris Must List is a travel vlogger whose videos in TT on gang culture and violence have gone viral.

Newsday contacted National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds for a comment, but he said: "You want my comment on somebody else's comment? You think that would be the most reasonable use of my time? God bless you. I thank you, kindly."


"Veteran officer: Cops must hit the streets to better fight crime"

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