Focus on gangs, weapons in 2022
Police intend to focus on dismantling criminal gangs, recovering illegal weapons and pursuing white collar criminals using every tool in their arsenal this year.
Acting CoP McDonald Jacob, at his first press briefing of the year, said Friday at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, that on average nearly 60% of murders each year are related to gang warfare, while domestic violence and altercations still account for 30 percent.
He gave the murder statistics for the past four years – 523, 539, 399 and 449 – indicating that the average was between 430 and 440 people killed per year.
Jacob said the statistics show that more analysis is needed to address the murders as well as the shootings and injuries.
He said the police teamed up with a group of lawyers from the Community Justice Clinic to help reduce cases of civil litigation, such as property disputes, landlord and tenant disagreements, before they do not become fatal.
But he admitted there was still a major problem with criminal gangs, which have left hundreds of men between 16 and 29 dead in recent years.
“We intend to maximize the use of anti-gang legalization,” he said, noting that the Homicide Bureau had recently successfully charged offenders with several murders. Last year, 89 people were charged with murder.
Police seized 680 illegal firearms and more than 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition, Jacob said, a total of 976 people were charged with possession of illegal weapons and related offenses last year.
He said the focus on removing illegal weapons from the streets would not only target legal ports, but would also examine the operations of security companies, licensed arms dealers, legal firearms users, shooting ranges and firearms trainers.
Jacob said there were too many guns in Trinidad and Tobago and there were gaps in the legal system that needed to be strengthened.
The focus on firearms, both legal and illegal, he said, is to prevent weapons and ammunition from being used by criminals.
Jacob said the Financial Investigative Bureau will play a bigger role in cracking down on white-collar crime, such as money laundering, unexplained wealth linked to illegal careers, and the gun and drug trade. This unit is also leading the investigation into allegations of criminal conduct in the granting of legal firearms, while a separate audit by a group of retired police officers is still ongoing.
Acting Deputy Deputy Erla Christopher announced a new measure to reduce murder and violent crime in the North Division, which has the highest crime rate, by splitting the division in two, with more resources deployed to protect 510,000 households.
A Chief Superintendent will lead the North North Division, in charge of Arima, Pinto, Cumuto, La Horquetta, Maloney and San Rafael stations, while another will lead the North North/Central Division, in charge of Arouca, Maracas, St Joseph stations , Piarco and Tunapuna Stations.