An International team of experts is being sought to form the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) newest unit, the Cold Cases and Missing Persons Unit.
According to sources, the hierarchy of the TTPS led by Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith is seeking to recruit experts in cold case and missing person investigations, cybercrime, and safety and security from the United States and the United Kingdom.
When contracted these experts will be officially enrolled in the TTPS as special reserve officers (SRPs). Under the Police Service Act, the CoP can recruit individuals who can enter the service as SRPs.
In Sunday Guardian publication dated September 16, 2018, Commander Garvin Heerah, former head of the National Operations Centre and an expert in Homeland Security and Safe City Concept had said that T&T critically needed as a “workable solution” in dealing with the scores of missing persons cases that pop up almost on a daily basis and also to deal with cold cases. He had suggested a dedicated Missing Persons Unit (MPU) with specialist investigators.
These types of investigations, Heerah had said, demand intense research skills and crime mapping (a re-creation of crime scenes, in the case of cold cases) that warrants specialism and best practices.
Many families were pleased to hear about plans for a dedicated unit to handle cold cases and to deal with missing persons.
Nia Naimool’s sister Zalima “Ashma” Naimool, 32, of Tacarigua, went missing three years ago, on June 3, 2015. Naimool, who was picked up by a close male friend from Nia’s house, was not dropped back home by the individual as was normally the case. Niamool has not been seen since.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian, Nia said that there are so many unanswered questions, “Initially, I always said I did not think the police did enough. Where the person said he dropped off my sister there were so many CCTV cameras around and I wonder why the police did not view the footages to see if it was really so.
“Secondly, we were told that my sister and the same person were at a bar liming and I went to the bar and viewed the footage myself. I went and told the police and the police said they will go for it but I was told by the people in the bar that the police never came for it. I always wondered why…the police left so many key things undone,” Nia added.
She said that from day one she literally begged for a special unit to be put in place where grieving relatives like her would have gotten specialised services, including psychological help.
“My life, the lives of my parents, sisters, brothers, close friends, and family has been as though we are on a standstill, it’s always like we are in that time. We have struggled to move forward because we have no closure. We keep thinking when is she coming back. It is torture…we are living a nightmare,” Nia said.
On February 3, 2018, Coreen Singh, 25, was last seen at her Peytonville, Carapo home shortly after 4 pm.
Three days after, Singh’s Nissan Tiida was found burnt in St Augustine.
Singh’s eldest sister, Sharon Reyes, said she feels as though the investigation has been swept under the rug.
“I have always been calling the police stations, especially every time that I hear that they found a decomposed body. It has been a horrible living this life,” Reyes said.
She added that her already ailing mother had two massive head strokes because of worry and stress in the last six months and is unable to see and speak.
“I just want to say to this new unit to please help me in any which way you can. How can we start again when there is this missing piece? How do you put the heart together when a piece is missing,” Reyes said.
When contacted for comment, Griffith did not deny or confirm the information about the recruiting of international experts. He, however, chose to comment on how soon the unit would become operational, by saying: “You would know in good time.”
According to a TTPS source it engages in investigations into an average of 750 “missing persons” cases annually. This latest statistic, however, was disclosed in 2015. It is believed that that number has significantly increased.
- by Rhondor Dowlat