Some 38 new police officers, many of them specialists in their field, are to be added to the ranks of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force as government hunts ways to nip the rising tide of serious crimes.
On Friday, Alpheus Smith, a retired high-level civil servant was shot and later died after two armed men attacked him in a business complex parking lot on Providenciales on Thursday.
Premier Hon Washington Misick, during a national address on Saturday, announced that 10 of the detectives were already sworn-in on Friday, with another 20 expected to oath-in in the coming weeks. The remaining number will come in as tenderfoots.
“Yesterday, the 15th of October, the commissioner sworn-in five detectives from the United Kingdom, with another 10 detectives to be sworn in over the next 60 days. And in addition, The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force will recruit 18 local officers,” he said, noting that the new and expected additions should move the number of the men and women in service closer to 350.
Misick said his administration has already made significant investments in national security, not only in the police force, with $4million spent on sourcing vessels and a new home for the Marine Branch and surveillance, but also towards the recently established TCI Regiment.
In addition, Misick said millions were spent cleaning up communities to ensure the police can get in and out of the community easily.
In the meantime, Premier Misick cautioned that there is no magic wand approach to fighting crime, which he said could only be achieved through cooperation between the citizens and the police.
“There is no off-the-shelf solution to the troubling challenges we face. With all the unknowns and uncertainties, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot change the past, but we can, and we should change how we perceive it and how we look to the future,” he said.
He added: “In what could be described as a crisis, it is human nature for you to expect your premier to fix things and fix it fast. However, in a complex situation like the emerging pattern of violent opportunistic crime, familiar answers, and I am sure there are lots of them, might not work and could even be counterproductive. We have to allow the police to do their job.
“Given the totality of the dynamics, the problem is enormous and all forty thousand plus of us must have to work together to overcome it. We are our brothers’ keeper…and when we have information that would lead to the solution of crime, we must make sure it ends up in the right hands.
He said together the country will get through what he referred to as this difficult time.
“This is not a time for polarizing opinions, quick fixes, false promises or overly simplistic answers. In other words, the problem is not going to be solved by a command-and-control style. It is not going to be solved by the premier lauding a solution from above.
“The solution requires dialogue, it requires collaboration with all to find novel solutions and it is not to be driven by fear. We must not become a garrison community and we must not flinch in the face of laggards and cowards, by having them dictate how we should live our lives,” he asserted.
In the meantime, the premier described Gardiner’s killing as senseless, demanding that it must stop. He said the slain civil servant, who was a personal friend of his, impacted many lives.
“Alpheus Gardiner was a personal friend. He was also a teacher and spent many years as a permanent secretary. In short, he made a tremendous contribution to the life and progress of the people of these Turks and Caicos Islands.
“So, I would like to extend particularly condolences to his dear wife, Clara Gardiner, who is also a career civil servant and to his daughter who works in the Attorney General Chambers and to the rest of his family,” he said.
The premier revealed that when the shooting took place, he, along with his colleagues were meeting to discuss critical national security matters in a specially convened National Security Council meeting.
“A very proactive National Security Council nerve centre and network across government have been established. Crime and national security, I want you to have no doubt, are at the forefront of my government’s agenda,” he said.