Commissioner of Police, Erla Harewood Christopher says the subject of “corruption in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service” has once again been presented as an issue in the public domain and has generated a significant amount of interest and comment.
In a release, she said such comments naturally will attract the attention of the organisation and will prompt a critical introspection among the ranks to assess the validity of the statement.
“It is undeniable that the TTPS is not the perfect organization and from time-to-time experiences discreditable conduct amongst its ranks. While the TTPS is not unique as an organization in that regard, we take no comfort in that fact, because we understand our role and appreciate that as a law enforcement agency, to whom much is given, much is required” Harewood Christopher said.
“As a result, we apply a very stringent recruitment process, requiring candidates to undergo a robust vetting process and we publish information in the newspapers to facilitate feedback from the public that will allow us to disqualify undesirable candidates before they are selected.
We find allegations of corruption against police officers to be undesirable and wholly inconsistent with our mandate. It is for this reason that we are consistent and deliberate in treating with any such cases promptly. We understand very well that such discreditable conduct operates to undermine our very legitimacy and our deliberate efforts to build public trust and confidence in the TTPS.”
She said: “As Commissioner, my record will indicate a zero tolerance on police misconduct and I give the assurance to the national community that under my leadership the TTPS will continue its very deliberate work of ridding the service of officers that prove themselves unfit to be police officers.”
The top cop said that in 2022, 36 officers were charged stemming from 79 offences and for 2023 to date, 19 officers have been charged stemming from 51 offences. The Professional Standards Bureau is currently also investigating 109 reports.
She added: “As we treat with the issue of police corruption, I wish to encourage persons knowing of police corruption, or having evidence of such, to make a report to the Professional Standards Bureau or call 555 or 800-TIPS which will protect the anonymity of the caller.”
The CoP reminded members of the public of Section 3 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 11:11, which states that any person or persons who corruptly gives, promises or offers any gift or reward whatsoever, to any person, whether for the benefit of that person or of another person, as an inducement to, or reward for doing anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, actual or proposed, in which the State or a public body is concerned, is guilty of an offence.”
“It is also incumbent on me to appeal to citizens to resist the temptation of making unsubstantiated statements about perceived police corruption that serve only to discredit the police and embolden the criminal element, thereby making it so much more difficult for the police to get the public’s cooperation in the fight against crime.”
The Commissioner said she feels an obligation to stand in defence of the vast majority of hard working and dedicated Officers, who though maligned almost on a daily basis, often without cause, continue to serve this institution and our country with utmost integrity.”
“It is unfortunate that it is at all possible that their sterling efforts at protecting and serving are often eclipsed by the negative sentiments created by the conduct of a minority.