(Trinidad Guardian) Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher believes this country is dealing with an unnatural evil and without divine intervention, her anti-crime strategies, including reducing murders, will be doomed to fail.
Addressing members of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) at Signature Hall in Longdenville, Chagua-nas, yesterday, Harewood-Christopher admitted that suppressing the murder rate is still “a bit beyond” the capabilities of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). As such, she called for backup from above.
“An evil has spread over the land and we must recognise, those of you who are spiritually inclined, you must recognise that this is beyond the physical and unless we seek the intervention of that greater spirit, whatever we may call him, we know we have different religions, so who will call him God, who will call him Allah, or Krishna, all of us, if not all of us, 99 per cent of us believe in a superior being and we need to invoke the help of that being, if we need to really bring Trinidad and Tobago back to that place where we want it to be,” Harewood-Christopher told the audience.
She added, “Because the police can come up with whatever strategy, but unless we enlist the help of God, we will be working in vain.”
The CoP, who only recently promised to make a serious dent in murders by June of this year, also explained to the audience what success the TTPS has had this year and the measures she intends to roll out.
“For this year alone, we have already recovered, as of day before yesterday (Monday), 126 illegal weapons and over about three thousand rounds of ammunition. If you think of ammunition as one round of ammunition can kill someone, how many lives would have been saved or protected?”
Harewood-Christopher said there will also be an increased focus on transnational crime, enhancing police intelligence capabilities, leveraging technology to improve police operations and building police legitimacy.
“We know we can’t get your support unless you trust us,” the CoP said, while promising that she will have a zero-tolerance approach to police indiscipline and corruption.
“I want the citizens to know and feel secure that they can report, and I know in Central Division for one, a number of officers have been arrested and charged for corruption, so we are not afraid and we will not stop arresting our own if it becomes necessary.”
She also told the audience, most of whom were business owners in Chaguanas, that her goal is to “do a lot of introspection and to fix our management and supervision situation.”
“I want to have officers who are able, I want an organisation that is agile, that is responsive to community and national needs, an organisation that is efficient, effective and, of course, professional,” the CoP added.
Harewood-Christopher reiterated that police would also be focusing on the dismantling of criminal gangs.
“Criminal gangs and drugs have been responsible for 65 per cent of the drugs and murders in T&T.”
The CoP added that she is from Central and plans to join the Cunupia Busi-ness Association, as she vowed to make Central and the rest of T&T safe. She also called on citizens to stay on the right side of the law.
Criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran was in attendance and spoke with Guardian Media following the CoP’s address.
Deosaran said Harewood-Christopher’s presentation was commendable. However, he had some advice for her.
“She and the Police Service have to recognise that they need to do their actions down on earth and God will help those who help themselves.”
Deosaran said her appeal for God’s intervention was encouraging and will resonate with this country’s population, most of whom still believe in a higher power.
“Because she does need public support, especially with the promises by June to reduce the murder rate, so with those promises she will not only need citizens’ support but heavenly support as well.”
On the CoP’s pronouncement that there is an evil that has infected this country, Deosaran said it’s still being perpetrated by human beings.
“The fundamental problem resides in the people who commit the murders, home invasions, kidnappings and human trafficking, and that is where the police have to get involved frontally and fundamentally and then possibly rely on the almighty to try to drive the Devil away.”
CCIC president Baldath Maharaj was also heartened by the Commissioner’s address.
“She advocated that regardless of the God we worship, we need God’s help. This will ensure that we have good value systems and fear in our minds for wrongdoings. A family that believes and prays to God, would less likely get involved in criminal activity.”
Maharaj also commended Harewood-Christopher’s crime plans, saying he believes they are realistic.