Having taken office with a promise to reduce the murder rate “short-term by June and long-term by December”, Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher is now admitting that murders are “still a bit beyond” the police and has decided to enlist God in her fight against murders and other crime.
Seemingly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, Commissioner Harewood-Christopher has concluded that “an evil has spread over the land” that can only be stopped through divine intervention.
We have no objection to the Commissioner’s resort to God. After all, the large majority of the population probably turns to God in their moment of need. However, none of us applied for the job of Commissioner of Police, confident in our knowledge and ability to lead the Police Service successfully amid a record level of murders and surging crime. She did. Indeed, if a powerful belief in God was a key criterion for the job, almost the entire population would have qualified to apply.
Her comment to the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday night that “unless we enlist the help of God we will be working in vain” would have been easier to accept from a preacher at the pulpit than from a Police Commissioner charged with the assignment to dismantle gangs, disrupt the drug and arms trade, make our streets and homes safer, and gather and secure evidence to prosecute criminals successfully. For hapless citizens living with the daily risk of being robbed, beaten or killed, the Police Commissioner’s spiritual beliefs and dependence on God are hardly factors of consideration. What is relevant is her competence and capacity to lead, whether or not she has been able to enlist God.
Particularly worrying was her analysis of the problem of crime as “an evil” that has “spread over the land” and which is “beyond the physical”. We strongly disagree. Not only is the crime wave now gripping T&T firmly in the realm of the physical, but it is the creation of humans emboldened to seek the fruits of crime by a lack of consequences; the corruption and dysfunction of the arms of law, order and justice; breakdown of family structures and communities; weak social and political institutions; abuse of technology and lack of role models, among other things.
Crime is no plague descended from the sky upon our poor little heads, but the deliberate actions of men and women who seek the easy route to self-enrichment, believe they have the right to exercise control over others, and whose humanity has been degraded and desensitised to the point of inhumanity.
On the premise that God helps those who help themselves, we urge Commissioner Harewood-Christopher to see the challenge of the job for what it is, and not as a battle “beyond the physical” that will be fought “in vain” without “the help of God”. She can rest assured that the nation’s churches and God-fearing citizens have her back. What they need from her is to have their backs by carrying the fight to the criminals.
If, however, she feels she is fighting in vain, she should know what to do.