A major election platform promise made by the various political parties which have occupied the corridors of power in our country was to solve the crime problem.

However, in spite of the best efforts of the present administration, citizens are still living in fear because the central question to be asked is, how much is being done with the tangible resources provided to arrest the fears of these law abiding citizens when so many of the crimes committed go unresolved?

The low rate of detection exists because the perpetrators are always one step ahead of the police. Any gains claimed to have been made by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) such as last year’s 50 per cent reduction in shootings and wounding as compared to the previous year, did not translate to a 50 per cent reduction in homicides as pointed out by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith in a media conference held on May 18, 2020 nearly one year ago.

In the minds of the public such claims quickly dissipate and the police are left wanting, giving the impression that nobody in authority seems to really care about the bloodshed.

Equally troublesome is the startling revelation made by Griffith at that same media conference, of an annual $50 million burden on the pockets of taxpayers for 300 officers on suspension on disciplinary matters with pay and who should have had their matters cleared up in several months, but after ten years had not.

Incidentally, what is the current situation on this matter? Was there any improvement? Again, what is its present status from last year 2020 to present? While the remedy for such an unacceptable situation lies in legislative reform as it pertains to the Police Service Act and the Special Reserve Police Act as pointed out in the 2020 media conference by Head of the (TTPS) Legal Unit, Christian Chandler.

This is easier said than done since such sweeping legislative reforms will certainly need the support of the parliamentary Opposition who are usually inclined to oppose for opposing sake, usually on spurious grounds.

Police Commissioner Griffith stated quite categorically in the 2020 media conference that high powered weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47 were becoming the popular weapons of choice for criminals; referring, to police statistics, he remarked that the number of high powered weapons seized over the previous two years had risen.

Last month’s grand seizure suggests that the TTPS is on an upward swing.

However, unless the Opposition joins ranks with the Government and lends its support to crucial pieces of legislation which could help reduce, in particular, gang-related homicides and so help the TTPS, the police will be fighting a losing battle.

All of this, coupled with the fact that police officers themselves are being charged with committing crimes, makes citizens feel hopeless, disenchanted and bewildered. As it stands now, a culture of death is pervading our society and the Opposition must get its act together and help the Government to return the country to a culture of life as the window for action is shrinking.

Moreover, since crime is everybody’s business, there is a dire need for citizens themselves to rediscover the values of honesty and brotherhood, otherwise our country will continue its despair on this worrisome matter.

Parents must resolve to take the first step in saving T&T, because at the end of the day, the family will determine the extent to which the culture of life is achieved. For far too long, and at our own peril, the teachings and practices of our forefathers have been ignored resulting in the breakdown of moral and spiritual values in the home, schools, work place and by extension the national community.

Rishi Lakhan

via e-mail

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