More Municipal Police
“There will soon be 1,500 Municipal Police”, according to Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, Faris Al Rawi in a recent budget discussion.
Mr. Minister, nothing will change unless there is consistent enforcement of the law at ALL levels, including our politicians. Surprise sting operations are necessary, but this “vaps policing” will not work. Another way of describing this “vaps policing” is “sporadic policing”. Sporadic policing is when police engage in a particular law enforcement exercise in an impulsive manner. Recently, on some random day, the TTPS issued a flurry of parking tickets in St James. The following day and subsequently, citizens continued to park incorrectly and make “U” turns randomly with little or no consequences.
What was the objective of that day? To issue their quota of tickets or to nudge citizens into obeying the laws?
We talk about how Trinis obey the laws abroad as if it is in our DNA to do so, but we obey them abroad because there are immediate, consistent consequences. People would be less inclined to “take a chance” if they felt that the odds of being caught were high.
Taking a Chance
This attitude of “taking a chance” has become prevalent. From the illegal construction of buildings to breaking traffic lights, people are just prepared to take a chance because they are confident that even if the matter went to court, the consequences would be minimal. I am yet to know someone who has received a traffic ticket in the mail.
Sporadic policing is annoying, and wearisome, and causes citizens to feel singled out when confronted by a police officer especially if several others are committing the same offense and getting away. Sporadic policing will not create the behaviour change we need. What is required is the consistent implementation of the laws at all levels of our society.
Our country can pull itself back from the brink of social collapse if we commit to both implementing and obeying the laws. The rules and laws were created to ensure that things run smoothly. When there is an inconsistent application, it leads to chaos, mismanagement, and corruption.
The current sporadic policing is having far more negative than positive consequences. Citizens need to know that if they break a red light they will be punished; if they park on the wrong side of the road, they will receive a ticket; if they litter there is a litter warden to administer the penalties.
Without the consistent implementation of the laws of the land, we shall continue to lean towards breaking all the laws with the confidence that punishment is unlikely. This “Vaps Policing” is not working.