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The Trinidad and Tobago Passing Out Parade

ADDRESS

BY

SENATOR THE HONOURABLE BRIGAIER JOHN SANDY MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY

at THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO POLICE SERVICE PASSING OUT PARADE 

A and B SQUADS, OCTOBER 2010
 

PLACE: Police Training Academy, St. James
DATE: Friday 1st October 2010, 0200 pm

• Commissioner of Police, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Mr. Dwayne Gibbs;
• Other Heads of Division of the Ministry of National Security;
• Member of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Executive;
• Director, Office of Law Enforcement Policy, Ministry of National Security, Mr. Keith Renaud
• Provost, Trinidad and Tobago Police Academy, Mr. Steve Watt;
• Officers, First and Second Division, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service;
• Academy Lecturers and Instructors;
• Graduates;

• Friends and Relatives;

• Members of the Media
 

Ladies and Gentleman

I am indeed very pleased to participate in today’s graduation ceremony and to welcome the 59 new police officers to the Ministry of National Security, and into the law enforcement fraternity of Trinidad and Tobago.

I have been advised that you are the first graduating class that began training in 2010 and you are the first to experience the enhanced training programme that is now being delivered over the fixed 24 week period.

I congratulate all of you on your significant achievement and commend you for choosing the Police Service as a career. I especially congratulate those who have won special awards for outstanding performance as trainee officers.

Graduates, the main objective of our training was to mould you into well rounded Officers; by schooling you in modern law enforcement techniques and sharpening your investigative and communication skills. With this new expertise imparted to you, I now ask you to go out and strengthen Police-Community relations by assisting with solving crimes and providing rapid response to calls of distress, among other duties.

You are about to embark on your career as a police officer in the service of our country and its people. Policing has always been more than just a job and as a consequence has attracted to its ranks those who have a deep commitment to the notion of public service and public safety.

Of course, it is this self-same instinct, this dedication to duty that often leads to police officers putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others. This is one of the greatest strengths of the Service and reflects the nobility of the profession, your profession.

Because it is recognized that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is understaffed, over the next few years the Ministry intends to carry out an aggressive recruitment drive to enhance our strength.   Currently, the Service is short by some 1,641 police officers. It remains seriously constrained by a protracted manpower shortage accompanied by a steady attrition including experienced officers.

This proposed recruitment drive will address the personnel challenge and will be facilitated by an aggressive marketing campaign intended to attract and select the best candidates. It is the intention to train at least 800 officers annually.

Notwithstanding the facilities available to us here at the Police Training Academy, it is proposed to use the training campuses of SAUTT to ensure that all our personnel in the Protective Services continue to achieve the required standards of competency, so that they might develop themselves in all aspects of National Security.

This point was made very clear by our Honourable Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her contribution to the Appropriation Bill for 2011 in the Parliament, where she stated: 

“The present training environment for our law enforcement officers is totally unacceptable, hence the reason for our law enforcement officers at times falling short in the performance of their duties, as they do not have the proper training environment required. The National Security Training Academy in SAUTT will assist that all aspects of training are delivered.”

Graduates, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, our objective at the Ministry of National Security is not only to build the competencies and capabilities of our men and women in uniform, but to attract the best possible cadre of individuals into the Protective Services and to train them, using the best facilities available to us, so that they can offer a more efficient service to the public.
I urge you to commit yourselves to training and re-training. To develop yourselves professionally, in any field or vocation, this principle should and must be adopted.

This now brings me to a matter of deep concern.  I have seen the Opinion Leaders Panel surveys done by MORI Caribbean on National Security and the other Government Services in 2010. What struck me was the statistics given, in respect of the number of people who share unfavorable opinions of our country’s protective services.

As a consequence, our young men and women have begun to shy away from careers in Law Enforcement.

We have already begun to review the existing training curriculum of the Police Training Academy with the aim of bringing it more in line with current International Standards. We have enlisted the services and expertise of the PROVOST in this regard. 
Not only will we expand training to include the assets at SAUTT’s training facilities but, our intention is also to provide tertiary level education in Security and Public Safety to our officers, collaborating in this regard with the University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Our officers will be persuaded to keep updating and increasing their knowledge base, to ensure that they remain abreast of new developments in crime fighting techniques and technology.

Graduates, distinguished Ladies and Gentleman, criminal activity and anti-social behavior presently, is a most fundamental menace to the economic and social development of our country. More importantly it threatens the well-being of our people. 

Unless crime is brought under control and there can be some assurance of human safety and security, our beautiful country will be robbed of the opportunity to attain its optimum potential.

Your Government is committed to the restoration of law and order in our land and we will pursue all necessary lawful measures, to realize that objective. We recognize crime as a multifaceted challenge. It requires a varied approach towards its solution. Over the past decade, there have been a number of structural problems that facilitated crime and continue to do so.

Your Government is taking a comprehensive approach that will address the political, economic, social, technological and managerial dimensions required to reinstate safety and security in Trinidad and Tobago.

But our commitment cannot be put into action unless we have the full support of every member of the Protective Services, including YOU, the bright young men and women who are entering our ranks today. We ask for your dedication to duty in this regard, by being relentless in your efforts, with perseverance and diligence in your approach to your responsibilities.

I was encouraged when I read the statements made by your new Commissioner of Police, when he called for a “Tsunami of Law Enforcement.”  He called for the various law enforcement agencies in the country to band together, against the crime “tsunami” that has already risen up in the country.

I was also pleased to hear him state that: “A Police Service is only as strong as the people working in that Police Service.” You the graduates should take note of these statements as they hold great relevance, since you will be expected to maintain that strength of which I spoke. 

Additionally, these calls by your Commissioner for greater participation and collaboration between the various arms of our security agencies fall right in line with your Government’s policy on National Security and Public Safety.

Graduates, your Deputy Commissioner of Crime, Mr. Stephen Williams has invited several heads of reputable security companies, themselves keenly interested in assisting with the fight against crime, to participate in this initiative. This Programme will entail a dedicated communications network that will engage the eyes and ears of security officers at their respective locations when criminal activity is being witnessed or suspected.
It is proposed as well to utilize the recently launched “Emergency Short Messaging System” (ESMS) that allows the ODPM to warn citizens of possible natural disasters to communicate with the wider community in respect of ‘all points bulletins’ in pursuit of fugitives and perpetrators of criminal activity.

Graduates, the fight against crime cannot be won without the involvement and assistance of all. The fight against crime needs to be a national objective, I cannot emphasis this enough.

The philosophy of the public’s involvement in the fight against crime should not be taken lightly. While the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the other Protective Services are important components, and must not escape responsibility. I humbly submit, that it does not begin and end only with the Police and Protected Services

The challenge is more complicated than that and we must seek to create comprehensive solutions. The journey to peaceful co-existence starts within the home, with proper parental control over our children and young adults; it continues in the schools and takes firmer roots in the wider communities and society.

As such, only a combination of remedies applied by the several publics with which our children and young adults interface, can successfully deal with this challenge.

The Ministry of National Security intends to facilitate and encourage society's involvement and support. Without this, the fight against crime cannot be successful, as we would like.

It is clear that there must be a dramatic change in our techniques and methodology, as the criminals attempt to be one step ahead. It is imperative therefore, that the Ministry of National security pursue a renegotiation of the social contract between its various arms and society in the fight against crime.

As you are aware the fight against crime has now assumed a more panoramic approach inclusive of social initiatives. The Ministry of National Security has been working in communities across Trinidad and Tobago through its Citizens Security Programme where it provides an urgent pro-social intervention to assist our young people to make better choices.

This Programme has laid the foundation for Government’s new community patriotism initiative.  This initiative is currently being designed to build community patriotism with the establishment of community competitions and carries the message, “Compete in sports and culture and not guns and violence”. To this end, a pilot project “The Morvant Laventille Initiative” is being implemented and will serve as an introduction to a full national programme within six months. 

Additionally, we are now in the process of designing a Mentorship Programme. Recently, officials from the Ministry held consultations with stakeholders in Trinidad to discuss the design and structure of the Programme. Today, consultations are being held in Tobago.

In this regard, we have been moving at a steady pace and we expect to launch this progamme nationwide in the first quarter of 2011. More information about how interested individuals can register to become mentors, will be given in the media soon.

Graduates and Distinguished Guests, before I conclude, it would be remiss of me not to publicly welcome our new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dwayne Gibbs and Mrs. Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Jack Ewatski and Mrs. Ewatski, to the Trinidad and Tobago Police family, recognizing, that this is your first official graduation ceremony and your inaugural address on parade with your troops. 

Gentlemen, on behalf of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago, welcome to our most beloved twin island state we call home.

Mr. Commissioner, as you may already know, public expectations are high.

We at the Ministry of National Security stand ready to work with you, so that your expertise in the field of law enforcement and that of Mr. Ewatski, can be engaged to bring some measure of relief to our beloved citizens.

I was particularly pleased to observe your keen interest in partnering with our citizens, through the medium of community policing, highlighting the intervention and prevention trust to the
installation and maintenance of Law and Order.

You are surrounded by hard working, conscientious and dedicated officers, who put their life on the line everyday in the line of duty. I have no doubt that you have the full support of your charges and indeed the support of the other officers in the Police Executive.

The quality and style of leadership are key factors in the process of advancing a programme for reform for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

While current reform efforts have already produced a strategic perspective for the transformation of the Service to a modern service-oriented organization, a new phase of reform calls for the development of good police governance in accordance with the government’s policy. This would require the police and stakeholders to engage in authentic partnerships to promote key principles of good governance within the institution.

It has been frequently highlighted that one of the major challenges facing the Police Service is a lack of human resources, and therefore one of the first undertakings of the new Commissioner should entail a manpower audit to determine the extent of the ‘problem’ and appropriate strategies to correct it. It may well be revealed that the ‘problem’ can be minimized through more efficient management and supervision, as it relates to the distribution and utilization of these resources.

There is absolutely no doubt that the performance of the Police Service can be much better than it is at present. It is anticipated however, that with the appointment of the new Commissioner of Police, the opportunity is ideal for the Minister of National Security to reiterate a clear performance mandate for the organization’s leadership, in terms of the priorities of the Government, and the earnest expectations of the people whom we have pledged to serve. 

An essential mandate must therefore be the pursuit of a structured plan of action developed for the short, medium and long term, on the basis of the following key strategic priorities:

  1. Reduce Crime and the Fear of Crime
  2. Improve Road Traffic Management
  3. Improve Customer Service Delivery
  4. Improve Public Trust and Confidence

Moreover, it must be acknowledged that the Leadership of the Police Service has a most important role to play, not only in shaping and guiding the reform process, but also in enlightening and motivating themselves and their officers in support of these efforts

Mr. Commissioner, Members of the Executive, I wish you every success in your attempts at restoring law and order in our land. I give you my assurance that our Ministry will continue to fulfil its responsibility to provide members of the Police Service – as well as all our other Divisions – with all that is necessary to execute their duties with confidence, professionalism and efficiency to improve our country’s security posture.

To you the graduates, becoming a police officer is a conscious decision you have made to contribute meaningfully to the upliftment and security of your country. Your dedication and commitment to this country’s future is what every citizen expects of you from today and it is what your instructors have been preparing you for over the past few months. For this, our Ministry applauds your unselfish career choice and welcomes you into its service.

As you undertake your new role however, know that every aspect of your performance will be monitored. Nothing but the highest of expectations will be on you to serve our nation in an outstanding manner, using the high quality training you just received. Your dress, deportment and conscientiousness must remain impeccable.

Do not allow yourselves to be lured into actions that erode your sense of integrity, decency and trustworthiness. Remain proud of yourselves and your uniform and your organization.

Permit me to leave with you a few words of Sir Winston Churchill, May 1940- Victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival.”

I know that you have the unwavering support of your Commissioner, the other members of the Executive, other senior officers, your colleagues, families and friends.  You also have the unwavering support of your Government!

I wish to embrace this opportunity as well, to express my sincerest thanks to the Provost, the lecturers and members of the training staff and the entire Academy for their excellent work, in transforming these young men and women into the professional law enforcers we see before us today.

Mr. Commissioner, Officers and Graduates, let us work together to provide our nation with the highest standard of law enforcement it deserves and return our country to the peaceful and safe paradise it once was.

I congratulate you once again, and wish all of you a long and illustrious law enforcement career, in the care and guidance of Almighty God.

I Thank You for your attention