The conference, held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, had as its main theme “Anonymous Reporting in the Digital Age” and attendees heard from Howard Cotto, General Director of the National Police of El Salvador, who said “the use of technology, research and interdiction” led to several thousand guns being seized in El Salvador between 2015 and 2016. In addition, he said, intense monitoring of gang members within the prisons had contributed to a drop in the number of murders by approximately 700 in 2016 compared to the number in 2015.
He described the intense surveillance as necessary since “these gangs do not have any principles or values. They kill everybody, sometimes children and women.” Mr. Cotto said the Salvadorian police also used satellite technology for monitoring illegal drug shipments.
The need for innovative technological solutions to combat crime was part of the reason that TSTT chose to be part-sponsor for the conference, Mr. Darryl Duke, Senior Manager -- Government, Security and Directories Business TSTT, explained. “TSTT, through its pervasive network and technology supporting the Ministry of National Security, has been on the cutting edge with regard to offering the most innovative, effective solutions for protecting citizens’ lives and property. So the annual Crime Stoppers conference was a natural synergy with us and our corporate initiative to go beyond providing telecommunications services, to becoming a holistic supplier of advanced technologies that cater to the vital needs of our people.
“We are also very concerned about the impact crime is having on our young people and anything we can do to help in combatting this, we stand ready to do.”
Also stressing the importance of technology in the fight against crime was Mr. Francis Forbes, Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS (Trinidad and Tobago), who told the delegates, “Communication strategies must be both innovative and technologically anchored.”
Mr. Forbes shared the sobering information that Ecstasy and Molly were now the drugs of choice in Trinidad and Tobago night clubs, but “Ecstasy is going out of fashion”, he explained, because of its debilitating effects on the user. Molly, on the other hand, allows the user to dance all night, then “they go home and have an overnight rest and are back at work the next morning.”
A CNN report late last year states that many users think Molly and Ecstasy contain the same ingredients, but investigations have shown they do not and that Molly may be more dangerous.
Mr. Forbes advocated the implementation of new policies to educate potential users and “a strategy which targets young people.”
“If there are no users, there would be no pushers,” he pointed out.
The importance of engaging the community was stressed by Steven Sebestyen, Citizen Engagement Product Manager for Motorola Solutions, who told the audience, “Every opportunity we can create to get you in front of your community to engage with them provides you an opportunity to build trust.” This trust, he said, then leads to empathy “and engaging in meaningful conversations.”
For this reason, he suggested that social media was more beneficial than regular media like TV, print or radio, since these latter “are one way. You are giving information but there is no feedback. In social media you have the opportunity to have dialogue.”
* Photo: Mr. Howard Cotto, General Director of the National Police of El Salvador, addresses delegates at the 37th Annual Crime Stoppers International Conference held at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre