Facebook has been angrily buzzing with commentary about the crime situation and the rampant murders throughout the country. There is also commentary about citizen action suggesting that we should not cower and hide in a corner. Fixing crime is a multi-dimensional, multi-layered challenge and we all have our part to play.
Our current Prime Minister was part of the PNM administration which allowed SAUTT to be established without the necessary legislative framework to legitimise its operations. This same gentleman, I am certain, is very aware of the plans drafted under the leadership of the late, former MP, Senator and Minister of National Security, Martin Joseph. I am sure he is aware of the key players and the fact that they are not being utilised at the moment. He alone knows why he has not taken the action necessary to begin the recovery process.
The only approach to reducing crime is a long term, multi-sector approach. It is not only about police or the death penalty. We need short, medium and long term plans, and a vision which can best be lead by the Government, but only in proper consultation with organizations which are in positions to understand the genesis of criminal activity. At the moment, however, our foundations and our non profits are too small and underfunded, and because of the economic downturn, our private sector is not positioned to produce jobs, so how can anyone imagine that this inappropriate combination will produce a solution to crime?
While we tackle the long term solutions, there are some quick-win solutions which might make citizens feel more confident that the Prime Minister who applied for, was screened, interviewed and selected, is in fact doing the job.
Here are three things the Government can do:
- Either confirm or fire the Acting Chief of Police. If the latter, we must put a capable person to replace him as Chief.
- Provide a status update on the following:
* the Dana Seetahal murder,
* the case regarding the cocaine in the juice and
* the case of the doctor who removed cocaine from a patient’s stomach.
- Ensure that charges are laid against public officials who have participated in the inappropriate spending of public money.
As recently as December 16, the Express reported that the Prime Minister said the following in part:
“Some criminals believed they were winning the fight and this could not prevail. Instead, the vast majority of citizens must feel safer and it is the results of police work that could be felt that was important”.
Two months later we are staring down the abyss of an absolutely chaotic situation. The report continued to quote the Prime Minister as saying that “certain types of crimes sparked the expectation that there would be accountability. But there is no swift justice in T&T, he said, saying he himself doesn’t feel that there is. This goes beyond the work of the police”. The words of the Prime Minister emoted weakness; and in the tone of an observer rather than of someone in charge.
This is a quote from the 2015 Manifesto:
“The PNM will simultaneously reform, upgrade, modernise and transform our Police Service and utilise the strength of partnerships through an inter-agency approach. The new approach to fighting crime will focus on Regional Corporations and Municipalities. This will facilitate the establishment and operationalisation of Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs)”
On the hustings, the current Minister of National Security told us about a “security architecture” and the need to “flank” the country. We need an update on this. We need to know about the “architecture” and the “flanking”. Citizens are ready to support and play our part but we need leadership.
We believed the then Leader of the Opposition when he said: “In summary, we in the PNM envision a society where integrity and morality in public life is of the highest priority and the Government serves the public good above all else, and where decisions are made and actions taken by the Government in the best interest of all concerned”.
Sir, I WANT your actions!