A major election platform promise made by the various political parties that 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 and this is so 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 of these heinous crimes are always one step ahead of the police and as such, any gains claimed to have been made by the Police Service, such as the 50 per cent reduction in shootings and woundings as compared to last year, do not translate to a 50 per cent reduction in homicides, as pointed out by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith in a news conference on Monday.

In the minds of the general public, those gains quickly dissipate and the police are left wanting, giving the impression that nobody in authority seems to really care about the bloodshed as a result of people being murdered almost daily.

Moreover, the startling revelation made by Commissioner Griffith at this same news conference, of a $50 million burden being placed on the pockets of taxpayers every year for 300 police officers who are currently on suspension with pay for disciplinary matters and who should have had their matters cleared up in several months, but after ten years have not, is equally troublesome.

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 media conference by head of the Police Service 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.

Their refusal to support the more recent Bail Amendment Bill which called for firearms offenders to be denied bail for 120 days is one such example.

Police Commissioner Griffith stated quite categorically in the news conference that “high-powered weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47 were becoming the popular weapons of choice for criminals”.

Referring to statistics, he said “the number of high-powered weapons seized over the last two years by the police had risen”.

Yet the Opposition refused to join ranks with the Government and support this crucial piece of legislation which could help reduce, in particular, gang-related homicides in the country.

All of this, coupled with the fact that police officers themselves are being charged with committing crimes, makes citizens feel hopeless and disenchanted, thus leaving them 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. The window to act 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 to 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.

Our elected officials also need to set a better example for our young people as some are not doing so.

It is therefore imperative that political parties exercise extreme due diligence in their selection of candidates for the upcoming general elections.

Rishi Lakhan

via e-mail

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EARLIER this week, the Minister of Housing officiated at a ceremony organised by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in which 500 lucky would-be homeowners stood to benefit from a random television draw for the allocation of State housing. This was the expected end of the line for at least those persons, some of whom would have submitted applications since who knows how long ago.

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