International experts for Cold Case Unit

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.

Fam­i­lies hope­ful

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

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