|New police commissioners seek more resources||| Print ||
|Written by Richard Greenfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Thursday, 07 April 2011 11:49|
With beads of sweat rolling off his face, new temporary police Commissioner Colin Farquhar summed up the difference between working in Canada and the Caribbean in one word: “Temperature.”
After the laughter subsided, the 31-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and his deputy, 33-year veteran Brad Sullivan, told the media at their first press conference March 31 that the job and the challenges facing the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force are similar to other agencies around the world.
Both men, here for two years under an agreement with Canada, said they will work to get more resources for police, improve training and efficiency, and strive to keep the TCI a safe place to live.
“We’re extremely happy to be here and use our experience to help the police force here develop some systems and some processes that may give them more resources and more police officers on the front line,” Farquhar said.
“Nobody works for me. I’m working for the police force to find them the resources, the equipment, the training to advance.”
When the TCI agreed to accept assistance from Canada, Farquhar and Sullivan applied for the jobs and were chosen in a selection process to lead police for two years.
Sullivan is recently retired, and Farquhar is on leave without pay from the RCMP.
The commissioners’ salaries are being paid by Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program. The TCI is paying for their housing, transportation and airfares to and from Canada at the beginning and end of the two-year contract and leave journeys in between.
Farquhar spent the last 2½ years in New York where he was police advisor for Canada at the United Nations. While this assignment is Sullivan’s first outside of Canada, Farquhar spent time in Haiti in 1995 as an instructor at the Haitian National Police Academy. He returned to Haiti in 2006 for two years as the deputy police commissioner supervising about 1,500 U.N. police officers.
Sizing up the situation
Farquhar and Sullivan spent their first few weeks here meeting with officers and senior police staff on Grand Turk and Providenciales. While there are many talented officers on the force and morale seems to be very good, the force has many basic needs, he said.
The number one concern is facilities, mainly police barracks and office space, the commissioner said. The headquarters on Providenciales “has been condemned for many, many years, and we still have officers working there with mold, mildew and all the problems that it has, so we need to get our officers out of there.”
Farquhar is considering the proposal to turn the old Myrtle Rigby Health Clinic into a police headquarters.
Vehicles and marine vessels — or the lack thereof — are another problem. “We have a traffic unit that has 12 people in it and one vehicle,” he said. “Well, it’s hard to be a traffic unit if you only have one vehicle.”
The commissioner said police also have great needs in information technology. “We have a database here — it’s a very good database — but it is not being properly utilized. Part of the problem is that we don’t have enough computers for the officers.”
Increasing police pay
Farquhar said he is also looking at trying to get the 10-percent salary cut for all government employees in April 2010 rescinded for police and to make sure proper allowances are in place.
“I think it’s important to properly salary police officers,” he said. “It’s an area throughout the world where police officers are not paid enough, it could lead to corruption.”
Police are even struggling to wear proper uniforms because there is no stock of pants, shirts, shoes and hats. Farquhar wore a suit to the press conference because his uniform is being made.
“Uniform is very important to us,” he said. “As an organization, you need to look professional.”
Sullivan said more officers are on the street than people might assume because they do not have proper uniforms that identify them as police. Proper uniforms increase visibility.
While the force has 250 officers, Farquhar and Sullivan are assessing how they are being used in units such as drugs, traffic, patrol and major crimes to make sure manpower is used efficiently.
Some older officers are leaving police service before retirement age to use up accumulated paid leave that they are due, in some cases more than a year, Sullivan said. Then they will begin to take their pensions.
What happens in some police forces is that they become top heavy with too many senior managers, Sullivan said. “The trouble with that is that it takes long time for communication to get from the front line officer to the police commissioner,” so changes will be made to “flatten out” the ranks.
“It’s just putting people in the right places. There will be no demotions. Some of it you can do through attrition,” he said. “All of it will be through discussion and consultation with police officers.”
On the family islands, Farquhar said there will be no more police stations staffed by one officers for health and safety reasons. There must be at least two officers, he said.
While police headquarters are on the capital island of Grand Turk, Farquhar is looking at an often mentioned move to Providenciales because of the population and number of officers there. However, he said police finance and human resource personnel may stay on Grand Turk, while others — including his office — might move to Provo.
Sullivan was on the job for two days during the four-day protest that began March 8 and blocked Airport Road. He said police made sure there was another route to the airport and took a calm approach to dealing with the situation, which ended peacefully.
But Farquhar said police want to work with people who want to protest, planning legal demonstrations that are safe for everyone but allow protesters to get their message out.
“As for the protest that happened, when you block a roadway, sometimes all you do is you upset people, and your message doesn’t get across. And the important thing is, your message needs to get across.”
Farquhar is succeeding Commissioner Edward Hall, and Sullivan is succeeding Deputy Commissioner Hubert Hughes. The former commissioners are going on pre-retirement leave, using up their accrued leave prior to retirement.
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