Kerry Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom My­ers sits down with Sinead Kelle­her to dis­cuss some of the most press­ing crimes and trends in the county

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By SINEAD KELLE­HER

A DED­I­CATED sex crimes unit, an in­crease in garda num­bers, key suc­cesses tar­get­ting drug-deal­ing and the se­cur­ing of hefty re­sources to re­fo­cus on some of the county’s most puz­zling and in­fa­mous crimes.

Kerry Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom My­ers can rea­son­ably look to his 18-month ten­ure at the helm of An Garda Síochána in Kerry with some sense of mak­ing progress.

He in­her­ited a ser­vice slashed to rib­bons by one aus­ter­ity bud­get after an­other, as well as a rank-and-file force that was left as de­mor­alised here by na­tional con­tro­ver­sies and cuts to work­ing con­di­tions as in ev­ery other county.

A tough cop steeped in the war against drugs in Cork through his stint at the top of the city’s drugs divi­sion, he hit the ground run­ning; gun­ning for drink-driv­ing from the get go as well as the county’s drug-deal­ers.

His ten­ure will also be linked with Kerry’s most in­fa­mous cold case - the Kerry Babies; sen­sa­tion­ally re­opened ear­lier this year in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion he is ‘per­son­ally’ over­see­ing, as he told The Ker­ry­man.

His time at the top will also see the cre­ation of a new unit ex­clu­sively fo­cused on bring­ing sex predato tors jus­tice.

A key ini­tia­tive for Chief Supt My­ers is the rolling out of the new Di­vi­sional Pro­tected Ser­vices Unit (DPSU) to in­ves­ti­gate spe­cialised crime types, in­clud­ing sex­ual crime, hu­man traf­fick­ing, child abuse and do­mes­tic abuse.

It is hoped this unit will come as a huge boost for polic­ing in Kerry with up to 12 highly-trained gar­daí work­ing on se­ri­ous crimes.

“We know, work­ing closely with the Kerry Rape and Sex­ual Abuse Cen­tre, that there are cases out there that are not be­ing re­ported,” Chief Supt My­ers told The Ker­ry­man.

“We need to get to those peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren. We are look­ing for­ward and we are op­ti­mistic that the DPSU will be­gin op­er­at­ing by the end of this year.

“That will be an­other big in­vest­ment as we will have a dozen mem­bers in that work­ing with Tusla and the Kerry Rape and Sex­ual Abuse Cen­tre.”

He said that while it may not seem like an area of mas­sive con­cern to or­di­nary peo­ple go­ing about their daily busi­ness, a huge vol­ume of this crime does ex­ist in Kerry.

He points to pros­ti­tu­tion as one of the many ar­eas that will come un­der the DPSU’s gaze:

“All you have to do is log on­line un­der Kerry and you will see the amount of ladies there, some by choice, oth­ers not. We have to be proac­tive in polic­ing all of th­ese ar­eas, not re­ac­tive.”

One of his main pri­or­i­ties com­ing into the job was drink-driv­ing - at a time when the crime is in­creas­ing in Kerry in a very wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ment.

The most re­cent fig­ures show that 119 drink driv­ing de­tec­tions in Kerry this year alone.

“It is re­ally frus­trat­ing the amount of peo­ple driv­ing with ex­cess al­co­hol in the county. It never ceases to amaze me that in this day and age peo­ple are still drink­ing and get­ting be­hind the wheel of a car.”

He said that drink-driv­ing in Kerry ranks high in com­par­i­son to other ar­eas and he is de­ter­mined to crack-down on this and re­duce the trend. The statis­tics show that it is younger drivers who are get­ting be­hind the wheel.

“Surely be to God if you are go­ing to drink you can take some­one with you that isn’t drink­ing or get a taxi, there are op­tions.”

“The con­se­quences of be­ing put off the road are con­sid­er­able, whether it is drop­ping the kids to the school or to foot­ball. Then there are the in­sur­ance is­sues.”

He is once again is­su­ing a warn­ing to the peo­ple of Kerry “If you drink and drive you will be caught”.

Seven new gar­daí have been ap­pointed to the re­named Roads Polic­ing Unit, for­merly the traf­fic corps, and there will be more check­points as a re­sult.

He warned that this year more gar­daí will be ev­i­dent at fes­ti­vals across Kerry to com­bat drink driv­ing in­clud­ing Puck Fair, The Rose of Tralee and Lis­towel Races.

He said while drink-driv­ing in a key pri­or­ity so too are seat­belts, mo­bile phones and speed­ing and the roads polic­ing unit are go­ing to be con­cen­trat­ing on th­ese in the com­ing months.

Drugs are an­other key chal­lenge for Supt My­ers who has spent much of his ca­reer work­ing on na­tional and in­ter­na­tional drug in­ves­ti­ga­tions - leading the Cork city drug squad for seven years.

“I gave an un­der­tak­ing when I came down here that drugs would be one of my pri­or­i­ties and we have a fierce com­mit­ment to tack­ling drugs.”

Cannabis re­mains the “num­ber one drug of choice in Kerry” but con­cerns also cen­tre on heroin and co­caine avail­abil­ity at a time when co­caine use is surg­ing.

The Kerry Di­vi­sional Drugs Unit is in­tent on halt­ing sup­ply of th­ese se­ri­ous drugs and the statis­tics are en­cour­ag­ing in this re­gard.

How­ever, as al­ways more needs to be done and the Kil­lar­ney Drugs Unit is now set to get more man­power in a bid to tackle drugs in South Kerry.

“Drugs are the num­ber one scourge in Kerry as they are in ev­ery county.”

In Tralee, drug deal­ers are known to use lanes and out-of-the­way walks to avoid gar­daí, but such tac­tics by deal­ers are be­ing mon­i­tored says Supt My­ers.

He told The Ker­ry­man that gar­daí are fo­cus­ing in­tently on the River­walk to the rear of the Fels Point area after lo­cal re­cently voiced con­cerns about ac­tiv­ity there.

In­deed, the com­mu­nity-fo­cus of the gar­daí is a cen­tral tenet of Supt My­ers’ vi­sion; lis­ten­ing to what peo­ple have to say and re­spond­ing ap­pro­pri­ately.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the pub­lic and the gar­dai is vi­tal to fight­ing crime across Kerry, he says. Supt My­ers hopes to con­tinue to build on this re­la­tion­ship and to try to re­duce crime in the county. That is ul­ti­mately his goal as Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent of Kerry.

“I must say the com­mu­nity in Kerry is sec­ond to none. We, the gar­daí, are not per­fect I am sure, but I want the peo­ple of Kerry to sup­port us and to have con­fi­dence in us,” said Supt My­ers.

“The peo­ple of Kerry are the eyes and ears of the county and I want peo­ple to give us in­for­ma­tion.”

The re­cent Ca­her­siveen crime furore is an ex­am­ple of this, with hundreds call­ing for more gar­daí in the town at a pub­lic meet­ing.

He said this pub­lic sup­port helps garda know what is go­ing on the area.

“I want to thank the peo­ple of Ca­her­siveen in par­tic­u­lar for their sup­port. I am lis­ten­ing to them and we are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion,” he told The Ker­ry­man this week.

He said that they are look­ing at the re­sources in the area and that the Kil­lar­ney Dis­trict, which Ca­her­siveen, falls un­der has now re­ceived ex­tra gar­daí, which will help with polic­ing in that dis­trict.

Five ex­tra gar­daí were ap­pointed to the Kil­lar­ney Dis­trict last Fri­day.

“There are is­sues in Kil­lar­ney at the mo­ment and they need more sup­port. The next time it will be some­where else.”

“It never ceases to amaze me that in this day and age peo­ple drink and get be­hind the wheel of a car’

Kerry Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom My­ers.

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