Gregory Aboud--use

‘SWIFT ACTION’: Gregory Aboud

Two business groups are applauding Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith for his enthusiasm to fight crime, but they feel it is simply not enough.

Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) president Gregory Aboud said yesterday that the current management model of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) does not make it easier for Griffith to deliver the results the country needs.

“I personally feel that this current Commissioner has given a tremendous amount of himself to the job, but he needs that same level of enthusiasm from the rank and file and from the troops in the field. And if we could get even ten or 20 per cent of the current Commissioner’s enthusiasm spreading throughout the country’s police stations and making itself visible among the police officers, I think that we will be in a position to say that we will challenge the lawless in 2020,” Aboud said.

Aboud posited that everyone in Trinidad and Tobago should be ashamed at the murder toll for the past ten years.

According to figures from the Police Service, the murder count for the past decade was 4,449.

The current murder toll for 2019 is 533, the second-highest recorded in this country’s history.

There were 550 murders in 2008.

“The situation with murders in T&T over the last ten years, with law and order in general, is one that we should all be ashamed of because not only has the data become much worse than it was, but we have proven unable to change the trajectory of the worsening situation,” Aboud told the Express via telephone.

He said the murder toll was a “terrible symptom of this country’s failure to implement”.

“The fact of the matter is that we should accept as a country that we are losing our capacity to implement, whether it is an approval of ‘Town and Country’ or the renewal of a passport, or the enforcement of a speed limit.

“Our society is suffering from a failure to implement and a failure to govern. And that has been imposed on us by the defective Constitution that we created at Independence and it has made it very difficult to catch a murderer or to stop a flood, or create a situation in which we will have a high presence of teachers in classes and a rapid ability to deliver surgery in the hospital. It is all connected,” Aboud stated.

“We cannot catch, nor have we been able to prosecute even ten per cent of murders that have taken place. The effect of this runaway lawlessness, and the effect of us living in a society without law and order, is that it has acted to discourage all types of positive behaviour, including, if you were to ask the business community, expansion of the economy, expansion of investment or creation and development of new enterprises,” he added.

Aboud said the crime scourge has also caused the migration of T&T’s bright, young people “who sense total hopelessness with the repeated failure in all the areas I have mentioned”.

Supermarkets under attack

President of the Supermarkets Association of T&T Rajiv Diptee said while the association is heartened by Griffith’s enthusiasm and appetite to curb crime, “it has done little to abate the spiralling likelihood of becoming unintended victims of random robberies, violent crime and gang warfare in the absence of a national strategic war on crime”.

“We in the business community do not feel the confidence of the crime-fighting measures being deployed in the course of doing business or feel that from the echelons of national security,” he told the Express.

“We have been inundated by crime in so many fashions that our red flags have become bloated to include many forms of fraud, pilferage, white-collar crime and armed robbery. While there are good men and women in the Police Service, more needs to be done at a national level to combat the already ridiculous crime situation which will give the TTPS the tools they need to clinically make an impact and bring a feeling of safety back to our communities,” Diptee said.

He said supermarkets in particular find themselves on the forefront of organised crime and brazen robberies.

“Operating costs have only increased and ballooned with the cost of security, including security cameras, patrols armed/unarmed, as well as additional infrastructure to secure our premises. They have brought to bear heavy costs on the overall cost of operation. We have been deeply affected in the business community with customers desiring to shop at secured premises for their safety and this all comes at an additional cost which has an inflationary effect on some stores,” Diptee stated.