Commissioner of Police, Trevor Botting has pointed out that from perpetual trends, there is a culture of arson on the Island of Grand Turk – the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In a statement to announce police changes on that island, which he said would develop community policing, Botting declared that citizens on that island know who the arsonists are but are failing to report them.
However, he said the police would be relentless in their pursuit to bring those destructive elements to justice.
The following is the commissioner’s statement:
The community of Grand Turk has been dealing with the issue of homes, business and historical buildings being set on fire for many years, in fact, over the last two decades the culture of setting fires on Grand Turk has never been properly addressed and it shows no signs of abating.
I have heard of many instances where for several year’s persons would set fires on the Island for no purpose and at great cost to the feeling of safety on Grand Turk.
Of course, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force, will do everything within its’ powers to identify those responsible and, where there is evidence, charge and prosecute, we will be relentless in following this course of action.
The prevention and detection of crime is a priority of policing and always will be, however it should also be the priority for everybody.
The instances of fires over such an extended period demonstrates clearly that this is a deep rooted societal issue, a culture of Grand Turk that needs the help of everybody to address. Whilst I know I am not very popular when I say that crime is everybody’s issue, the fact is and always will be, that it is.
People on Grand Turk know who are setting these fires, I would go so far as to say that there are people on Grand Turk who could provide the evidence, we need to lock up those responsible for these wanton and destructive acts that are blighting the communities of Grand Turk and putting people and businesses in danger.
If I am referring to you, if you know something you have a moral duty to tell us. If you don’t, you are being part of the problem. Now is the time to do something. Now is the time to speak up and tell us what you know. Together, we can make a very real difference to the safety and security of the Grand Turk Communities by tackling the root cause and culture of this issue.
Let me be clear, so I am not misunderstood, I and my senior leadership team, together with the rest of the Force feel the weight of responsibility in keeping our communities safe and we will do all we can to do that, we know that it is our job but it’s a job we need to do in collaboration with our partner Government Agencies, our community partners and our communities.
Working together is the only way we can deal with crime and the causes of it to build safer communities. For our part, the RTCIPF is committed to working with our communities and the Community Policing programme will be further rolled out during 2022.
This will include a school’s program to engage with our youth and dedicated community officers to ensure that we can listen and understand the concerns of our communities. For Community Policing to be successful we need the engagement of you, the people within our communities.
To drive forward the policing on Grand Turk, we have appointed two officers to key posts on the Island. Assistant Superintendent Franklyn Thomas is the new Divisional Commander, and he is directly responsible for policing on Grand Turk, South Caicos, and Salt Cay.
It is his job to be visible and available to the local community so he can understand the concerns of the Community. In addition, a brand-new Superintendent Post has been put in place with Dwight Gardiner filling that role. Supt Gardiner will be responsible for delivering community Policing across the TCI and he has overall responsibility for Community and response policing.
The creation of this new post and the appointment of Supt Gardiner demonstrates our commitment to our communities and our commitment to build a safer place for the people of the TCI and those who visit. These officers take up their posts today and the Deputy Commissioner and I are meeting with them this morning to discuss what is needed for Grand Turk.
I am very confident that the community will see a change to policing on Grand Turk and I am asking you to support them, engage with them and tell us your concerns.
In the immediate future, a community meeting is being arranged for tomorrow by the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent Gardiner. As you would expect, I have been in conversations with the Governor and the Government as we seek to build together a unified and sustainable solution to this problem and I know there is a determination within us all to make this happen.
We know you are concerned about the issue of arson on Grand Turk, we are focussed and determined to bring those to justice but to get to effect sustained change, we need you to work with us.
There is clearly a damaging culture of arson and fire setting, and this has been the case for a long time. It’s imperative that we now work together to deal with this long-standing issue and bring a feeling of safety back to Grand Turk. May God continue to bless you and these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.