More than US$10 million (approximately TT$60 million) has been provided by the United States Embassy in recent years to Trinidad and Tobago to assist with the crime fight, says Shante Moore, the embassy’s Charge d’Affaires.
He was speaking at a reception to celebrate the launch of the Gang Reduction and Community Empowerment Project (Project GRACE) programme at the Marriott, Port of Spain, last Wednesday.
Trinidad and Tobago, he said, has also benefited from regional security programmes developed under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.
He noted that the US government, through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), committed US$1.3 million to the GRACE programme which will be delivered over the next 18 months.
The implementing partner of the programme is the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF).
Moore said GRACE seeks to help reduce gang-related crime by strengthening the relationship between the police and at-risk communities.
He said it will help deter and dissuade young people from joining criminal gangs. GRACE, he said, also includes an intelligence-led policing component that will help improve the quality of anti-gang investigations.
Moore said the security assistance initiative by the US Embassy includes the donation of sophisticated scanners to bolster security at Trinidad and Tobago’s two international airports.
The diplomat further commended the TTPS for its efforts in retrieving illegal firearms.
The US Embassy, he said, continues to provide significant technical assistance, equipment, and training to the TTPS and other authorities to detect and remove illegal weapons, dismantle criminal gangs, and address the root causes of violent crime.
Moore said to help combat the illegal export of weapons from the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) re-established a permanent presence in Port of Spain in May.
The ATF, he said, coordinates with Trinbagonian and regional authorities to stem the flow of illegal weapons.
In addition, he said Homeland Security Investigations, the primary investigative service of the US Department of Homeland Security, works with Trinbagonian law enforcement to address the illegal importation of firearms through T&T’s legal ports of entry.
Moore said successfully reducing gang violence, the demand for firearms, and the illicit flow of firearms that drive the homicide rate require genuine partnership and collaboration between all stakeholders in the room, including government ministries, law enforcement, civil society, and the private sector.
He said the success of the GRACE project depends on their collaboration, contributions, and facilitation of the project leads.
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