The meeting here followed the recent murders of several people, including two 16-year-olds, in a section of the capital earlier this month.
In an address to the nation following the meeting on Thursday night, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that no political party, no individual government can solve crime alone.
“This is neither a party nor a political issue. The fight against crime should be something that unites us, not divides us. It will take the collective efforts of the government, all other political groups, the protective services, non-government organisations, businesses and citizens.
“Crime is everybody’s business and we cannot end it if we put partisan interests ahead of the good of our country.”
Rowley told reporters that the opposition is committed to working with the government in the fight against crime and reiterated that a collaborative approach was needed.
“We are saying that this matter requires urgent action; we will not put any political impediment in the government’s way in treating with the loss of security and loss of opportunities for people in East Port of Spain or anywhere else,” he said.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said the meeting agreed to devise a new system for the appointment of a Commissioner of Police and to boost the morale within the police service by filling vacancies and undertaking a comprehensive review of promotions in service.
There was also an agreement to create a specific offence for witness tampering and intimidation and there would also be a review of the controversial Anti-Gang legislation.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said with regards to the Bail Act, consideration will be given to deny bail to a convicted criminal if after conviction on a first offence, the person is charged a second time.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said her administration had undertaken a number of initiatives to deal with the crime situation, and that approval has been given for the police to form a Rapid Response Unit (RRU) and to purchase 300 new vehicles.
“This unit will be consist of response teams and will be equipped with advanced technological devices to improve police response time to crimes that are in progress. Alongside this, officers will be on patrol throughout the length and breadth of the country,” she said, adding that the teams would initially be focused on the most crime-prone areas in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We expect the Unit to be fully operational before the end of the year,” she said, adding that the government has also embarked on a specialized training programme for Special Reserve Police officers.
She said as it relates to the brutal murders of young people in the East Port-of-Spain area, these crimes brought responses of “empathy, anger, shock and fear in the national community” and that many measures are being considered in response to this upsurge in violence.
But she insisted that the measures “are not merely reactive to the current violence, nor are they confined to only one geographic area” and that her administration is seeking “long-term visions and strategies for the transformation of East Port of Spain as indeed several other areas and communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago”.
She spoke of a number of new initiatives to develop the area assuring nationals that “my government will ensure that these programs are continuous and utilizes the skills and resources in the community.
“My government understands the impact crime is having. It is not just the families of the victims who suffer; everyone does – whether its business trying to encourage foreign investment or the tourist sector trying to show off our beautiful islands.”
She called on other stakeholders including religious leaders, teachers, community groups “to continue to work with us so that together we may create safe and secure communities and a country free from fear and the horrendous crimes we are currently witnessing”.
Meanwhile, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) has condemned the “mass” round-up of residents in East Port of Spain, the majority of whom were released without charges.
In a statement, LATT said that Trinidad and Tobago is governed by the rule of law and “condemns the conduct of the police regarding the alleged mass taking into custody of several persons from East Port of Spain and their subsequent release without charge”.
Police detained 101 people and released 59 with a warning that those released were still under investigation and could be re-arrested.
“While the reports are conflicting as to the precise number of persons ‘detained’, it would appear that approximately 59 were released without charge and approximately 42 are still ‘detained’,” the LATT said, reminding the police about the parameters in which they must operate despite all the challenges faced.
“We remind the police that this country is governed by the rule of law and it has been long established that the police have no right of detention or arrest unless they have reasonable suspicion of someone having committed an offence or an offence is being committed in the presence of the police.
‘’We acknowledge that the police have an extremely difficult job, but must act within the parameters of the law and with restraint and equanimity in the execution of their responsibilities,” it added.
The Law Association also urged the Police Service to adhere to “responsible policing”.
“Suspected offenders must be dealt with in accordance with the law and the police must be beyond reproach. We therefore urge the police to adhere to responsible policing and to execute its duties in accordance with the law,” the release added.