I am from Grand Turk and representing officers of "A" Division without the sense of malice or bias. Over the past years working in law enforcement, I have known the force responsibility as if I was still a part of that organization.
During my tenure as a law enforcement officer, I knew that procedures were put in place where CID, including Special Branch, Drugs Squad, Financial Intelligence Unit and others, were established to deal with crimes of serious nature, e.g. murder, manslaughter, robbery, drugs, burglary, handling stolen, forgery, arson, unnatural deaths and the list continues. These investigations unit attract special allowances for both investigations and plain clothes.
The Turks and Caicos Islands population is close to 40,000 looking at the last survey and, with a force of just over 300 officers to match such a large population and the different level of crimes that fall against the communities, the force really stands its ground, bearing in mind there is no counselor or a force chaplain for an officer who is entirely stressed through his or her tour of duty by working hard to ensure the public safety.
Is the current Commissioner a competent holder of his office in the Turks and Caicos Islands? NO, NO, NO. Reasons for a no: I would assume that the primary role of his employment was to address the rise of serious crimes on the Islands rather than a few weeks taking over office, he immediately changed the force uniforms that had been used for years since the force was established. The uniforms that include shirts, belts and shoes may have been purchased from Canada and may have been purchased from family members or friends. Could this be a possible conflict of interest?
Afterwards gossip, gossip and more gossip began sailing to his office from the force gossipers and the commissioner sat down and entertained them. Then promotions began to rain as if a new Santa Claus had come to the Islands. Not bad for those who are the lucky winners.
Bob Marley sings man to man is so unjust. That is a true song to describe the system. Should the commissioner listen to stories and promote officers or he should have based promotions upon recommendations and then perused the officers’ personnel files, since he has bypassed the examination that was set as procedure. Because of this the officers who have worked hard through the years dedicating their service to the force and who were not treated with respect felt discouraged. With some of the most experienced officers in Providenciales with CID experience transferred to the beat and replaced by junior officers who have a year in the force, does that make sense?
The commissioner also gave acting inspector promotion to an officer who had five years work experience and had not gone through any of the exams over officers who have done exams, passed and waiting in line to be promoted. At one stage, a special constable was given acting inspector to run community policing while the inspector was transferred to the beat; very weird
The severance package that was introduced to civil servants was another issue. More than 80 police officers applied. Can you imagine if everyone were given such package, the force would be left with only the inexperienced officers? Could they manage? Two officers from Grand Turk applied and received their packages. Both officers left the Island back to their country and caused two gun cases to be thrown out of the Supreme Court and they could only received these packages because the commissioner signed them and for those who did not have the opportunity, interest level has dropped tremendously.
Grand Turk Police Station is still surviving, although the media has already heard that most of its officers were to be transferred, leaving a few in Grand Turk and the Commissioner lied, saying that was not true and for the head of the force to blatantly lie, it shows that he cannot be trusted.
Talking about procedures, last year, November 2011, he implemented a pilot project, to merge CID, Drug Squad, Traffic, Scenes of Crime Unit and Community Policing into Beat and Patrol for a period of six months to see how this would impact the community. Having everyone dressed in uniform was not a bad idea but if things do not work it should not be prolonged.
A few months ago, up to the last two weeks in September 2012, Grand Turk officers had been facing sudden deaths from a cruise. Now that task was left to the beat officers who spent a lot of time gathering all the necessary information to supply the Coroners. The cause of some of these deaths was by drowning and these are matters that should have been dealt with by a CID officer because of the nature of it.
Continuing on the pilot project, just after it was implemented, a spate of serious crimes occurred and an innocent man almost got killed by a shot that grazed his forehead while having a drink at a popular bar, Cee's Store, Gold Smith, two armed robberies and a suspected arson, which left a three-bedroom family house and a one-bedroom apartment attached totally destroyed just after new furniture was placed inside and until now none of these crimes on small Grand Turk has been detected.
After all these crimes occurred, I understand that the ACP, who controls operations, and his deputy, visited the Island and said the program was working. This is truly unacceptable.
With this pilot project, most of the officers have lost focus and cut back on giving because of feeling discouraged and demoralized. The younger officers’ ego was to apply themselves so that the criminal investigation department would have been their choice in their career. These officers now want to quit.
The public is now watching these officers’ performance and capitalizing on every given chance to make fast money doing the wrong thing and because of this there are more drug vendors than buyers in every district. Cannabis, crack, cocaine and ecstasy are selling like hot bread, with ecstasy sold and used by the high school students. For the officers to get a proper control of this drug situation, a unit will have to put back in place in order to do surveillance and to eradicate the drug businesses. How can the uniform branch do this type of work? Are we insane?
Her Majesty's Prison is also more like an industry by itself because of the amount of drugs the prison wardens found in that institution, with most of it are supplied by their own officers.
From day one, drugs as always being an issue on the Island and in the whole Turks and Caicos, the uniform strategy will not work. It’s just an easy way for the vendors to know exactly where the officers are. Is that common sense? We cannot think about hindering at all times; this will never stop the issues we are facing in this society and we need to act now before it’s too late. Drugs and guns are always combined.
This pilot project could never have been used anywhere else where serious crimes are occurring, not even in Canada. Nowhere else will you find the beat and patrol investigating serious crimes and tackling drug offenders and that blatant wickedness to the officers in Grand Turk and of the "A" Division. This sickens the community that is seeking help from the police. I even heard a father whose son is attending the high school say he might have to take matters into his own hands because these guys are forcing his son to indulge in smoking weed.
Providenciales officers are PAID to attack the same level of crimes and the officers in Grand Turk MUST do the same without payment. What makes "A" Division different? The world is heading towards great technology everyday and the force is becoming backward, as the OLDEST force in this entire region, they should equipped with the proper manpower and equipment to deal with these crimes on all the Islands that are affected and the commissioner should try and build the officers’ confidence more than break it.
The Commissioner needs to realize with the suspension of the constitution and the large percentage of young people that took their packages and left without a job, what does he thinks is going to happen next -- only more challenges for the police. And now all the offices that are available at the Grand Turk station, the Headquarters staff will soon be occupying them and will cause lesser space for the officers to function. That was his intention to bring in the Pilot Project.
Commissioner, you had the power to do whatever is desired of you, but you abused it and fell from procedures by setting a double standard. What were you thinking? You must realize that Grand Turk is the second largest populated island and crime is occurring every day. Burglaries are also on the rise in South Caicos and the public knew of this. Nothing is hidden in these small communities and when you have communities that fail to give the officers information those investigation will run into a dead end if the investigator does not take his or her time to sift through evidence.
With the diverse population and the different dialects, an investigator will not find it easy to carry out his investigation properly, so therefore this will take time, commissioner, for the officer involved, and bear in mind most of these expatriate are the ones who buy these items and take them out of the country, so disrupting the CID. You are making it easier for the burglar and the handler to do away with the evidence.
I am sure that the beat and patrol job description in both divisions did not emphasize investigations and the commissioner and his entourage who have implemented this pilot program should have gone through this before making a decision which is unfair to others and I wish the "A" Division officers would read their issued copy of the force manual to know the departments that are to investigate the serious crimes which was written as procedure.
Every day I sat by a guinep tree at West Road playing dominoes and what I saw each day was something that I have never seen in Grand Turk, especially when the tourist boat is docked. There are three different areas where these guys operate, vending drugs in just that small area and they are so brazen, having their look out man.
Sometimes the tourists are brought to them by their accomplices and sometimes by the taxi operators, I cannot agree with what the police officers are doing but they are someone’s children and deserve to be treated the right way.
Soon the recruits will be added and I am sure they will not be elated or anxious about getting in rather than to be free from the confinement of being in training.
Your dictatorship and poor leadership, Mr Commissioner, is not prudent, more than to steer the force to destruction and without correcting this situation before it goes further you will find your officers begin to resign one by one. This is a very fierce society and the constables and sergeants are the frontiers to this organization and it’s their lives at risk while all of the top ranks are in bed. On the Islands, it’s the people who live and work on them that know what’s best and you should have learnt from them the crimes that affect those areas before making your decisions, otherwise you are defeating the purpose.
These officers are someone’s child, wife and husband, father and mother, so they are connected to someone and when they are hurt the whole family and friends feel the same. Grand Turk and South Caicos need to revert to the Criminal Investigation Department. Burglary is now a big issue in South Caicos and the officers are finding it difficult to know who the perpetrators are because people fail to give information. Stop crippling the force and do the right thing.
Please publish this article as we care for the police officers who are abused by their high command.