This refers to the approved budgetary allocation of public expenditure dedicated to protecting and preserving the nation's assets; its people, its property, its peace. Resource preservation comprises funds, 10.41% of Trinidad and Tobago’s total expenditure as reported by the auditor general 2015 and 13.59% in the revised estimates 2016 and 13.05% down by 2.49% for 2017 published by the ministry of finance, to enact the policies of the ministry of national security, its arms and divisions, along with the crime interjection strategies of the police service, whose expenditure is independently control.
While the defence forces’ policies and funding are administered and overseen by the ministry, the non-executive president of the nation is the commander and chief of the defence forces, further subdivided into the regiment, the coast guard and air guard, with reserves and other specialty arms and initiatives.
The regiment or army participated in joint army police patrols in high crime areas or hotspots. The coast guard, while waiting on delivery of new offshore patrol vehicles OPVs secured by external loans since 2008, carried out numerous stop and search exercises with the equipment presently in service, resulting in seizures and arrest of illegal drugs and traffickers.
The air guard, which purchased four new helicopters in 2010 via a 20-year loan, assisted the other divisions from above by engaging in support missions. Other areas and initiatives such as; the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), Lifeguard Services, Transit Police Unit, Community Comfort Patrol (CCP), Cyber Security Unit, etc., all have specific public service mandates.
The police service, still with an acting commissioner, worked hard on its public image and to win and maintain the citizenry trust, with regular media briefings; public safety tips and updates on current investigations. Noting that, the arrest of officers allegedly engaged in criminal activity seemed to have had the greatest effect on the service's image.
The prison service, with over 2,500 officers of various ranks and responsibilities, manages several detention facilities throughout the nation. The fire service, with over 62 firefighters specially trained, as paramedics and 24 ambulances are strategically located throughout four divisions nationwide, and utilizes a 990 emergency call system.
The defence force, with its estimated 23.45% of the total resource preservation funding for 2017, executes its policies utilizing its subdivisions. The army will continue its joint patrols with the police in crime hotspots and during periods of heightened public activities, such as Christmas and Carnival, in spite of uncertainties in law regarding powers of arrest and engaging in gunfights.
The coast guard should deploy its new OPVs both for training exercises and interdiction in the protection of the nation’s ocean borders. The air guard, in need of more resources both equipment and trained officers, will continue to assist in search and rescue activities and crime fighting, as needed.
Other areas and initiatives in need of specific attention in 2017 are the forensic science centre and a DNA database to strengthen detection and prosecutions.
The police service, with an estimated 39.22% of the total resource preservation funding for 2017, with no settlement in sight on and about the process of selecting and ultimately appointing a permanent commissioner with the comforts and powers of tenure, which issues seem to fall squarely in the lap of lawmakers, parliamentarians, must continues its primary mission to protect and serve, employ crime deterrence strategies, gathering evidence for presentation to the courts and seeking persons of interest.
The prison service, with 12.67% of the total resource preservation budget for 2017, places great emphasis on rehabilitation, via talent training and life coping skills. The fire service, with 10.56% of the total resource preservation budget for 2017, also in need of modern equipment, must focus on recruitment and training.
The funds spent and allocated for both the ministry of national security and the police service cannot point to any significant successes, which if expanded, via more funding, would reduce crime statistics. Many voices agree that the bottleneck is the justice system and that disposing of violence cases, using video conferring for preliminary enquiries resulting with minimum time spend in jail or remand, with less exposure to wrong influences or elements, will for the falsely accused allow the recovery of a productive law-abiding life, while starting the guilty person's rehabilitation.
Terrance A. Jennings