Tuesday, February 18, 2020

750 people reported missing annually in T&T

Trinidad Guardian:-  A Miss­ing Per­sons Unit (MPU), with spe­cial­ist in­ves­ti­ga­tors, is crit­i­cal­ly need­ed in T&T to deal with the scores of miss­ing per­sons cas­es and to al­so deal with cold cas­es. The for­mer head of the Na­tion­al Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre, Com­man­der Garvin Heer­ah said the unit was nec­es­sary as there was a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence be­tween kid­nap­pings/ab­duc­tions and miss­ing per­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to 2015 sta­tis­tics, the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) in­ves­ti­gates an av­er­age of 750 “miss­ing per­sons” cas­es an­nu­al­ly. It is be­lieved that that num­ber has sig­nif­i­cant­ly in­creased.

From Jan­u­ary 2002 to April 2018, there have been 389 kid­nap­ping cas­es for ran­som re­port­ed in T&T. From Jan­u­ary 2013 to April 2018 there were 533 cas­es of kid­nap­pings re­port­ed.

Heer­ah said both de­mand­ed dif­fer­ent ap­proach­es, pro­ce­dures, and best prac­tice.

Heer­ah, an ex­pert in Home­land Se­cu­ri­ty and Safe City Con­cept, said the ded­i­cat­ed MPU need­ed to be equipped with mod­ern tools of the trade and “aligned with an in­ter­na­tion­al coun­ter­part that can pro­vide train­ing and de­vel­op­ment in prac­ti­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion sce­nar­ios”.

Heer­ah’s call for an MPU comes just days af­ter the res­cue of Na­tal­ie Pol­lon­ais from the hands of ab­duc­tors. Pol­lon­ais was snatched af­ter leav­ing the gym at C3 Cen­tre in south Trinidad, and un­der the guid­ance of Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith she was ex­tract­ed days lat­er.

Heer­ah ex­plained that miss­ing per­sons in­ves­ti­ga­tions was not just sim­ply about lo­cat­ing peo­ple you can­not find. He said even though there had been count­less cas­es of run­aways and flee­ing from emo­tion­al abuse, there ex­ist­ed le­git­i­mate crim­i­nal links in peo­ple termed “gone miss­ing”.

“Po­lice do the very best they can, but let’s be hon­est, they have to pri­or­i­tize based on the es­ca­lat­ing crime rates we have to­day,” he said.

Heer­ah strong­ly be­lieves that the ex­is­tence of cold cas­es was al­so pos­ing a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge to the TTPS, es­pe­cial­ly with lim­it­ed spe­cial­ist man­pow­er re­sources.

He sug­gest­ed that po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions could be aid­ed by fam­i­lies hir­ing pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors who can ded­i­cate re­sources to find­ing a miss­ing per­son.

“Pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors can start look­ing for a miss­ing per­son as soon as you be­come wor­ried, im­me­di­ate­ly in oth­er words, where­as lo­cal law en­force­ment must wait un­til a pe­ri­od of time has passed be­fore some­one can be re­port­ed as ac­tu­al­ly “miss­ing,” Heer­ah said.

“This is un­for­tu­nate be­cause in many cas­es, by pol­i­cy and pro­ce­dure the miss­ing child or adult can be fa­tal­ly harmed be­fore law en­force­ment has the op­por­tu­ni­ty to even re­spond,” he added.

These types of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Heer­ah said, de­mand­ed in­tense re­search skills and crime map­ping (the re-cre­ation of crime scenes, in the case of cold cas­es) that war­rant­ed spe­cial­ism and best prac­tices.

“The im­por­tance of this ini­tia­tive, how­ev­er, is it must be suc­cess dri­ven and in­volve con­sis­tent in­ter­ac­tion and di­a­logue with fam­i­ly.”

‘The first few hours crit­i­cal’

Grif­fith re­cent­ly ex­plained that with re­gards to kid­nap­ping cas­es, the first few hours were crit­i­cal but added that there was a greater pos­si­bil­i­ty in which that per­son can be res­cued.

Where­as with miss­ing cas­es, he said it was “a bit more dif­fi­cult”.

The CoP pre­ferred not to dis­cuss any spe­cif­ic amend­ments to the struc­ture of the TTPS with­out li­ais­ing with the rel­e­vant of­fi­cers and un­til com­plet­ing re­search.

How­ev­er, Grif­fith as­sured that the re­cent high tech­nol­o­gy used in the “ex­tract­ing” of Pol­lon­ais, the same will be used in any oth­er cas­es. He al­so gave the as­sur­ance that no miss­ing per­son cas­es were closed.

“It is ir­rel­e­vant as to ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, eth­nic­i­ty and wealth…the same ef­fort put in for Mrs Pol­lon­ais will be done for any oth­er case to en­sure that each and every per­son is brought back to their loved ones,” Grif­fith said.

“A few days ago an MP ap­proached me about a miss­ing per­son and he asked if we are go­ing to put the same ef­fort and we did and the po­lice found out that the per­son ran away with a friend but every sin­gle per­son who is miss­ing with­in the first 24 hours, we would do every­thing with our re­sources to en­sure they are brought back to their fam­i­lies…No miss­ing per­son re­port is closed un­til there is clo­sure.”

Grif­fith re­vealed that soon there will be the re­vamp­ing of the E999 Unit where there will be a new fleet of over 100 ve­hi­cles. He al­so em­pha­sised that these ve­hi­cles will be equipped with tech­nol­o­gy. “This will work to­wards de­ter­rents, rapid re­sponse, and high vis­i­bil­i­ty…this unit will as­sist in the re­duc­ing of crime and in the tak­ing away of the per­cep­tion and fear of crime.”

Kid­nap­pings for Ran­som

2018 – 4

2017 – 6

2016 – 3

2015 – 4

2014 – 3

2013 – 3

2012 – 5

2011 – 2

2010 – 4

2009 – 6

2008 – 11

2007 – 155

2006 – 17

2005 – 58

2004 – 28

2003 – 51

2002 – 29


2018 – 44 (Up to April)

2017 – 102

2016 – 75

2015 – 106

2014 – 94

2013 – 112


Soufriere Family Upset Over ‘Sex Interview’ With Mentally Ill Woman

A Soufriere family has expressed disgust over what has been described as a 'sex interview' in which a mentally ill woman talks about a...

WASCO Announces New Leak, Switches Off Water Distribution

Press Release:- The Water and Sewerage Company Inc WASCO regrets to inform consumers in the north of the island, that upon further assessment of...

Aircraft Crashes In Dominica

CMC News:- ROSEAU– Rescue teams were continuing the search on Sunday night for survivors after a single-engine Piper F-OGKO aircraft with four people including the...

Driving Instructors Frustrated Over Processing Of Permits

Saint Lucia driving instructors are frustrated because there are not sufficient clerks at the ministry of Transport to process permits, former President of the...