Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) McDonald Jacob yesterday said there could be an amalgamation of units in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service which could see the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) being merged with other units.
He made the revelation on the Dale and Tony show on I95FM yesterday, as he addressed SORT’s future as well as how social media rumours have been affecting police officers and the TTPS.
Regarding rumours of the impending dismantling of SORT, Jacob denied this saying that there is more of an amalgamation of units currently taking place.
“Just two weeks ago, we heard about being thrown out in the social media about the dismantling of our Child Protection Unit and the Special Victims’ Unit which was established. I had to counter and let it be known that within that very said week, we had sent three police officers to the New York Police Department to see how the SVU over there functions so that we can, in fact, have that unit working quite effectively,” Jacob said.
“Now we have the aspect of SORT being thrown up in the social media, that we have plans to dismantle SORT. The TTPS has no plans to dismantle SORT, the TTPS consists of about 37 different units. And just within the last 16 months, we would have heard about the OCNFB and OCU and so on, so we did an amalgamation and formed the Criminal Intelligence Bureau consisting of all these units under one head and cross-trained officers to get it to work more effectively.”
He added, “So the executive of the TTPS, as we come to the end of the year, we will again look at things to see what is best.”
He said such rumours circulating on social media are meant to distract.
“But because persons know the process we normally carry out in the police service, they now throw it out to create some kind of delusion again.”
Jacob said there are certain people attempting to give the impression that there is disunity within the TTPS.
“So you may have persons not just within, cause there are some persons who are involved who are not within the TTPS, so there is a combination of persons who are trying to demonstrate that we are not operating and we are not professionals and we don’t know what we are about. So many things are being thrown up in the social media to create this scenario that the executive of the TTPS and the TTPS overall is not aware of what they are doing.”
Jacob expressed frustration at having to respond to the number of stories, theories and rumours circulating about police officers and the state of the TTPS.
“It is a tremendous task, cause in some instances you have to write reports and respond to entities in relation to allegations being made. And we are totally frustrated because it takes a lot of energy from us to constantly be responding to these things that are happening. And then it’s not just the police service, they are attacking individuals.”
Jacob revealed that he too was attacked and a matter dating back to 1984, when he was an E999 officer in Couva, resurfaced.
He explained that he was a state witness as a police officer against another officer who had beaten a man in his presence.
“But they throw that up in a negative way like if I did something wrong. There are several instances where I will have to respond and question ‘why are persons doing this?”
He admitted social media rumours were putting an emotional strain on officers.
“The TTPS is a professional organisation and we have codes of conduct and what is happening is something we are not accustomed to. So this is hurting the police officers, hurting them deeply and psychologically. It is affecting them and their family,” he said.
“Now, the TTPS comes like some sort of political organisation. We are about seeing about the security of our nation. So we are not about that. And if we try to respond to persons in social media, it will take up all our time, so we are asking persons to desist.
“We have to refer officers to our social workers, psychologists. Senior officers sit down next to me with long tears in their eyes, crying in relation to different things. I have 41 years of service and my last three to four years have been the worst I’ve passed through.”
He said his love for policing remains and he is focused on his task. With the murder count also crossing 400, Jacob said something is wrong in society. However, said officers cannot just “shoot” their way out of a situation and need to be part of outreach programmes in communities to mentor and steer the youth away from crime.