Commissioner calls on heads of Eastern, Northern Divisions to step down over poor crime-fighting performances

Date: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 19:30

Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has called on the Head of the Eastern Division, acting Senior Superintendent John Trim and Head of the Northern Division Simbonath Rajkumar to step down, citing dismal performances in crime fighting last year.

Letters written to the senior officers, dated Monday, January 9th, point to increases in crimes, in some cases as high as 250 percent.

The letters are headed "Retirement at the instance of the Commissioner of Police".

The letter to Rajkumar states:

"In accordance with section 74 (2) (b) of the Police Service Act No. 7 of 2006, I am at present considering that you should retire from the Trinidad and Tobago police service at the instance of the Commissioner of Police.

I have carefully observed that you have not made any significant contributions towards the Police Service improving its performance in 2016. You led the Eastern Division throughout 2016 with the following adverse results as compared to the year 2015.

  • 114% increase in Murders
  • 81% increase in Wounding and Shootings
  • 250% increase in kidnappings
  • 61% increase in Burglaries and Breakings
  • 41% increase in Robberies
  • 3% increase in General Larceny
  • 36% increase in Larceny Dwelling House
  • 32% overall increase in Serious Crimes

You are invited to submit to me in writing within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter, any representation that you may wish to make as to why you should not retire from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service at the instance of the Commissioner of Police.

Kindly note that a person who retires at the instance of the Commissioner of Police shall be entitled to all his retirement benefits including gratuity and pension.

Yours faithfully,

Commissioner of Police"

The letter to Trim is the same but cites different figures:

  • 28% increase in Murders
  • 32% increase in Wounding and Shootings
  • 80% increase in Burglaries and Breakings
  • 69% increase in Robberies
  • 41% increase in General Larceny
  • 55% increase in Larceny Dwelling House
  • 30% overall increase in Serious Crimes

 

Section 74 (2) of the Police Service Act states: 

"A police officer in the First Division shall retire from the Police Service on his attaining the age of sixty years, but may—

(a) at his option; or
(b) at the instance of the Commissioner, retire from the Police Service at any time after he has attained the age of fifty-five years.

Neither officer has reached the retirement age.

Trim told us that the letter is in the hands of his lawyer but that he believes the request was unfair to him.

"It can only be fair if the officer is found to have contributed to the situation," he said.

He says divisional leaders can only rely on data to be able to allow them to allocated resources for patrols.

In 2016, he says, the majority of the crimes occurred outside of the areas identified by the data as hotspots.

Trim said that while the statistics for 2016 showed 37 murders in the division, not one of them occurred in a hotspot although the data had predicted that those were the areas where crime would have been highest, the same areas he focussed his resources.

He also pointed to the vast coastline in the division, from Matelot to Guayaguaryare, all of which, he says, has to be manned by his men without any external help.

He says there are numerous marijuana fields in the forest areas but that he is handicapped because legally they cannot enter without the assistance of the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB) and air support.

He said the since Constable Persad was shot and killed while entering a marijuana field in Rio Claro in 2012, officers must get proper support before they proceed on marijuana eradication exercises.

That support, he says, was not given to him.

"There are eight divisions in Trinidad and one in Tobago, and the Eastern Division was the only division with no outside support. There are many factors that spin off of marijuana fields but we are handicapped. OCNFB must be a part. If they are not going into it the division cannot go," he said.

He said while other divisions had help from the Inter-Agency Task Force and other units, his division was forced to do everything using its own officers.

He pointed as well to several squatting communities and new settlements, some of which he says resulted in migration of criminals into the Division.

Despite these challenges, he says his division had the highest detection rate of all divisions, 45%, well above the target of 30% set by the Police Executive.

He said his division also had the highest number of serious narcotics seizures amounting to 102 and the highest detection rate for robberies.

"We have not excelled in some areas but we have not fallen flat in some areas," he said.

Trim says his lawyers will reply to the commissioner within the stipulated time-frame.

Attempts to reach Rajkumar and the acting commissioner proved futile.

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