At the same time, Warner also said for the first time police officers would be allowed to take home their weapons and police vehicles.
In addition, the Minister announced the deployment of 300 new vehicles to the police service; the formalisation of previously announced plans to acquire new emergency response technology; the upgrade of police facilities; and plans for a computerised database to track illicit firearms.
As he addressed a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Warner said the total cost of these measures will be $289 million.
Warner said the intake of new officers will cost $60 million; the new vehicles, $60 million; the acquisition of new emergency response technology, $164.5 million and the upgrade of police facilities, $5.1 million. He said the United Nations will be approached for support in relation to the computerised database to track firearms.
The funds are to be allocated in the 2013 Budget, due to be unveiled by Finance Minister Larry Howai by late October. Allocations will be made under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) and the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF).
Speaking with Newsday after his announcement, Warner said the State plans to have 2,000 to 3,000 SRP officers made full-time police officers “before Christmas”. Overall, the State plans to have 5,000 SRP officers made police officers within a year.
The minister noted recruitment drives have already started for SRPs. Thousands of applicants were photographed by Newsday yesterday at the car-park of the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s San Fernando campus, where they turned up to undergo preliminary screening examinations in response to newspaper advertisements.
The addition of 5,000 new police officers would effectively double the current police force, according to figures on the Ministry of National Security website which place the total police force (inclusive of SRPs) at 6,500. The total number of SRPs has been estimated at 1,500.