Tobago police tell citizens to text about criminals, not cops

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Tobago police tell citizens to text about criminals, not cops

Tobago Police are making a special appeal for the “allyuh-too-wicked” people and the “police lookouts” to raise their voice and use their reporting skills on the criminals instead.

The call came from Superintendent, Rodhill Kirk, who was addressing the issues of anti-police residents and community members who continually blast the whereabouts of and operations by law enforcement personnel in WhatsApp groups. He was speaking at a town meeting held on Tuesday at the Bon Accord Community Centre.

At the time, Supt Kirk played several voice notes from residents who were alerting communities about law enforcement operations implemented to address the issues of crimes in their neighbourhoods.

The Supt questioned, why could not the community members use this same forum and energy to alert their fellow residents and the police when crimes are happening so that the perpetrators can be captured. He said instead of the faces, vehicles and actions of the police going viral on social media, criminals and theirs should be.

He said, in recent times, police were also hearing the “allyuh-too-wicked” chants when law enforcement acted on information and made arrests, however, when it came to providing information and working with the police, there remains a deafening silence.

One resident chided in, alleging that police officers themselves gave citizens the heads up on police operations.

Supt Kirk admitted that with every organisation there are staff that may not live up to expectations and that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has mechanisms in place to treat situations of misconduct and deviant behaviours.

He urged residents to be responsible and understand that crime-fighting is not only the job of the police but all citizens.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Eastern and Tobago, Collis Hazel, endorsed the Supt’s call to action, also stressing the importance of target hardening of residences and commercial hubs.
ACP Hazel said that technology continues to be a pillar within the Tobago Division to assist with deterring and detecting crime.

He revealed that CCTV monitoring on the island has been recently boosted and told attendees they too needed to invest in the feature.
One female resident challenged the ACP, highlighting that while target hardening may work, there is an issue of criminal migration from other villages.

She said she had been a resident in the Crown Point district for many years and there has been an influx of non-natives who are contributing to the changing crime situation in the neighbourhood. The residents said this must be tackled and that issues of lack of resources and poor police responses, do not assist with building the public’s trust.

ACP Hazel shared that while residents may want to see patrols everywhere, realistically and statistically, it cannot be done. He said patrols and police exercises are intelligence-led and patrols are coordinated based on needs and priorities.

Newly-appointed ASP (Ag.), Sunil Bharath, added, that residents should create and maintain WhatsApp groups to share real-time information with each other and the TTPS. ASP (Ag.) Bharath said this strategy works in the Barataria area where he was last attached. He was supported by a male resident who stressed, “Solving crime is a heart thing.” The resident said issues of crime could be solved if both residents and the police have the “heart” and “will” to see things change.

Meanwhile, residents also raised concerns over the increased vagrancy, illicit activities at Store Bay and reckless driving along the Store Bay Local Road, which the police committed to addressing.
The town meeting in the Crown Point Police District is the third for the Tobago Division for the year thus far, with similar, previous meetings held in Delaford and Signal Hill. The next is carded soon in the Golden Lane community.

The meeting also included key stakeholders such as Lieutenant, Joshua Mason, and Sergeant, Summer Hector, of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, and Divisional Fire Officer, Marlon Charles, among others.