FOR a second consecutive year the murder toll has crossed the 500 mark, days before the end of 2019.
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith yesterday acknowledged he was concerned by the high murder toll.
But he also laid blame on members of the legal fraternity and said that the country should also share the worry about homicides in T&T.
Last night the murder toll stood at 501.
The latest killings involved a 35-year-old father and his 12-year-old son whose bodies were found Friday night at Lady Chancellor Hill in Port of Spain.
Both had been shot in the head.
“It should (also) be a matter of concern to the nation for the 499 (murders) before that; as for every person killed, the nation has lost a citizen,” Griffith said in response to questions from the Sunday Express.
He said the T&T Police Service (TTPS) was doing all it could to combat crime in the country.
However, he suggested that instead of asking the police if they were concerned, other stakeholders should be consulted.
“To those who defend as their jobs the cold-blooded murderers to get them back on the streets as quickly as possible, you should ask them that question; to those in the criminal justice system who grant bail to criminal elements, where bail is granted easier than getting doubles on a Saturday morning, who try to justify that, you should ask them their view; to those who when the police do our job and arrest people with firearms who are on their way to kill people, and we have persons with the authority to amend the laws stating that these individuals have a right to be back out on the streets, to get another firearm to finish their job. You should ask them the same question,” Griffith said.
The country’s top cop also referenced a recent terrorist attack in London where an attacker killed two persons with a knife.
He said the London Metropolitan Commissioner of Police stated that in this case where someone drew a knife to kill someone, there was nothing they could have done to prevent it from happening.
“If this is the perception in the UK with a knife, imagine if someone has a firearm. Likewise, there is little or nothing police can do before someone is about to commit an act, the best way to minimise such homicides is to implement policies prior to the action, which is what we have been doing. We have been arresting persons in possession of firearms. However, it becomes more difficult if not impossible when persons are held, they are simply given a ‘red carpet’ to go back to the streets to finish the job they started,” Griffith said.
President of the TTPS Social and Welfare association, Inspector Gideon Dickson expressed similar sentiments yesterday.
He said the Association was calling on all stakeholders to work together in the fight against crime.
“It is not something that the police can do by itself. It’s something we all have to work towards. All arms. Citizens need to come forward and tell us what’s wrong and when they see anything illegal. The State needs to continue to invest in our young persons and lead them away from crime. The courts need to be more efficient and work with us. And the police need to continue to do their duties and to protect and serve this country with pride,” Dickson said.
In his opinion, the majority of serious crimes were committed by repeat offenders.
“Special attention should be placed on these individuals. And not just from a policing perspective, but even from a human one, with reform and other things in mind. We cannot continue with the same system. It’s basically a catch and release system and it is clearly not working. So we need a new approach,” Dickson said.
He also commended the Government’s decision to introduce new $100 bills, as he said from a policing perspective, it would reduce criminal activities such as money laundering.
Furthermore, it could potentially limit the ability of criminals to purchase drugs and firearms for some time.