Scene: Office of the Prime Minister. Dr Keithos convenes an urgent meeting to tackle the murder rate, which has climbed, risen and worsened but not spiked.
Keithos: (Speaking softly to Energy Minister Nicole Ollivierre) So, Nicole, how is it going so far?
Nikki: (Beaming) Good day, Prime Minister. It is all wonderful. The only little issue is…
Keithos: (Interrupting) Okay folks. You know why you are here. I need ideas to deal with the escalating murder rate now. Shoot!
Fitzie: Oh Gaaaad!
(Works Minister Fitzgerald Hinds dives under table out of force of habit. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Legal Affairs Minister Stuart Young coax him out again. Rowley rolls his eyes. Hinds regains his composure and looks a bit sheepish).
Maxie: Honourable Prime Minister, I just want to clarify… Is that an Opposition question?
Keithos: Maxie, go and check our social media pages or something. We will let you know when we need you.
(Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie leaves the room).
Dillon: Sir, should we say there is no escalating murder rate?
Keithos: Dillon, please don’t remind me why Carmona had to swear you in twice. Because I’m feeling like doing some swearing right now. Anyone else?
(National Security Minister Edmund Dillon sits down).
Dr Nyan: Dr Prime Minister, can I suggest that we revisit the budget and consider investing more money in at-risk communities, so as to give the young men and women more healthy and productive ways to burn off energy as well as increased self-esteem?
Maybe if Morvant Caledonia footballers, for instance, had more spending money than the average third form student, other young men would stop laughing at them and consider a healthier, safer and more wholesome career path?
Keithos: Thank you very much, Dolly. Can you go see if Maxie wants a cup of tea?
Fitzie: Don’t blush baby.
(Finance Minister Colm Imbert, Al-Rawi and Young stifle giggles. Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gasby Dolly leaves the room).
Stewie: (Raises hand) Dr Prime Minister?
Keithos: Yes, Stuart?
Stewie: Did you see my lunch kit?
(Imbert, Al-Rawi and Fitzgerald Hinds stifle giggles).
Keithos: You think this is a restaurant?! Sit down!
Fitzie: (In hushed tone) You mean a school cafeteria?
(More stifled giggles).
Keithos: Listen, this is the first major test of our administration. This is an opportunity to show our innovation, clarity of thought and precise execution. Now, we will prove to the populace that they are under new administration. And thank God for that!
(Loud thumping on desks and applause. Excited Sport Minister Darryl Smith kisses Housing Minister Marlene McDonald loudly on her cheek).
Marlene: (Blushing) Oh gosh boy. You’re not afraid that Michael Carew finds out?
Colm: Don’t worry Darryl. I hear Friday is his golf day. Right now, Michael Carew, Elvis and Tupac getting ready for tee off!
(Imbert, Al-Rawi, Hinds and Young giggle again).
Keithos: What’s that?
Faris: Honourable Dr Prime Minister, we are all euphoric and bolstered by your felicitous communique and cannot wait to be enlightened by your splendid new crime fighting assessment.
Fitzie: Boss, he says he cannot wait to hear your plan.
Keithos: So why he didn’t just say that? Steups.
(Silence as everyone leans forward in their chairs).
Keithos: Folks, it is time to fight fire with fire! They want to take over our streets? Well, we will take it back by force! Dillon, I am instructing you to put soldiers on the street to nullify the criminal forces once and for all.
The time for playing footsie with the criminal elements is over! Great is the PNM!
Fitzie: Ah-paya! That is brilliant boss! Everyone will love that.
Keithos: (Cooly sipping from a glass of water). That is why I am in this chair Fitzie. That’s why I am in this chair.
Faris: Ahem. Honourable Dr Prime Minister. If I might interject… I do recall that the People’s Partnership also pursued a consubstantial undertaking during the last administration.
Keithos: (Glares at Al-Rawi).
Fitzie: Boss, he is saying that the PP did the same thing.
Keithos: It is all about skill and execution, Faris. Notice how I put B***y in his place in Parliament the other day when he wanted to play wedding planner? You see me get in trouble like Smithy and Colm? This job is about foresight and intelligence. Tell Tanty watch and learn!
(Hinds gives Rowley a high-five).
Faris: Thank you, Dr Prime Minister. And, good Sir, might I be so precocious as to canvass from you the predetermined aftereffect of this mission?
Fitzie: Boss, he wants to know why you doing that.
Keithos: It isn’t bleeding obvious?! Soldiers with heavy artillery is a whole different kettle of fish for those gangsters. We will cower them into submission and command respect from the good and bad residents alike, thereby choking crime at its source. This isn’t rocket science you know.
(Imbert whispers to Young: ‘Like Keith was watching Universal Soldier again.’ Both men snicker).
Unidentified bald man: Prime Minister, with all due respect, are you assuming that soldiers will know what to do in these ‘hot spots’, simply because they carry guns? You do know they are not trained to police communities, maintain law and order or investigate crimes, right?
Isn’t asking soldiers to police ‘hot spots’ comparable to asking a carpenter to fix your fridge? Just because they both have tool belts, doesn’t mean they are interchangeable…
Keithos: Who the hell are you?!
Unidentified bald man: I am Mr Live Wire, Prime Minister. I am just trying to help…
Keithos: Get this damn man out of here! He thinks this is fun and games?! We’re trying to save lives here. Steups!
(The National Security Minister tosses Live Wire down a flight of stairs).
Faris: Dr Prime Minister, I do not wish to belabour the point…
Keithos: I bet that is the closest you ever came to labour in your entire life.
Faris: … but legislation does not procure soldiers with the capacity to search and arrest…
Keithos: The police will make the arrests.
Faris: So what will the soldiers do?
Keithos: Show we mean business and we are dead serious.
Faris: But are not the police hired to show criminals that we mean business?
Keithos: Soldiers will show we are doubly serious.
Faris: But soldiers are trained to kill…
Keithos: Good. Let us see some dead criminals for a change.
Faris: How will we ascertain that they are criminals?
Keithos: The police will point them out.
Faris: If the police know they are criminals, why not just arrest them?
(Murmurs from the room)
Keithos: Because, Faris, smart-arsed lawyers like yourself find legal technicalities to help them evade justice!
Faris: Dr Prime Minister, when you say ‘legal technicalities’, do you mean a lack of hard evidence?
Keithos: I have no intention of getting into any legal mumbo jumbo with you, Faris. I am trying to save the lives of honest citizens, not pass the bar!
Faris: Dr Prime Minister, if I may… (He begins reading from a sheet of paper)… ‘Listen to the countries who see soldier-police as a no-problem arrangement: Somalia, a country in which there is virtually no Government, Haiti, Israel, a State surrounded by enemies, virtually constantly at war; Afghanistan, Mexico, Venezuela… The Government is virtually accepting that the Police Service in Trinidad and Tobago is not in a position, or able to respond to the criminal elements…’
Keithos: Steups. Dillon, tell him again how short-staffed our Police Service is.
Dillon: We currently have 6,711 officers. But when you look at who is on leave and so on, the figure is closer to 2,000 active officers.
Faris: … ‘The problem with the Police Service cannot be solved by converting the army into police… If it is we only have 2,000 effective police officers in the standard establishment and we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ineffective responses, why not spend that money on establishing in communities, municipal police that are effective in dealing with community policing problems?
‘They will know who the local people are and they will be more effectively dealing with them alongside the national police.
‘With all the best efforts so far, our Police Service is not in step with what the criminals are doing… Some of the skills required now in dealing with some of the crimes require special skill sets such as forensic accounting. The police service does not have the proper skill set to follow money through the system.
‘So what is wrong with hiring people who understand the international and the local financial system, to work with the police under the Commissioner of Police? We are not doing that. What we are doing is creating soldier police to put more boots on the ground and that does not change the gathering of evidence.’
Keithos: Faris, you’re an arse or a marble?! Teenagers getting dragged out of taxis and executed and you are talking about boosting the Police Service’s forensic accounting?!
Faris: ‘… One of the problems we have had over the years when police and soldiers go out, even on joint operations, is this antagonism between the two bodies, where police do not regard soldiers as police and soldiers are never happy doing police work, not getting paid while police getting overtime.
‘Soldiers get paid on a fixed arrangement and their time is available to be used 24 hours a day, no overtime and when they go out on joint patrols with police, while they are there with their fixed remuneration, police overtime running. This will have the effect on two ways: demoralise the police; and affect the Defence Force…’
Keithos: What the hell is that paper you’re reading from?!
Faris: Dr Prime Minister, everything I just read is out of the Hansard from your presentation in Parliament on Friday 8 March 2013 in response to Anand Ramlogan’s Defence Amendment Bill.
(Silence in the room).
Faris: If I might quote you further, Dr Prime Minister: ‘Where the police service is falling down, not only with the loss of witnesses and the loss of trust from the population; it is falling down with not having within its ranks and within its effort, proper investigative skills and tools so as to go after criminals and detect the crime and hold the perpetrator.
‘And until we, as a people, come to a point where our policing is delivering detection of crime and the apprehension of miscreants, and the successful prosecution and conviction of those persons, we are not impacting on crime at all…
‘We are doing things for show. We are politicising crime.’
(Hinds coughs nervously).
Faris: Let me go on: ‘Every time there is a spike in crime in certain areas, they get lockdowns—so they lock down and open up, so they last for a few days, lock down and open up and that is another crime plan.
‘Just a few months ago, we had Laventille under “boots” and the Government is telling us every street in Laventille is being patrolled by soldiers. Yes, that might be so, but is that sustainable? How long was it sustained for?
‘Do we have the manpower to make the crime plan, a crime plan where the plan is that soldiers will be on every street walking up and down Laventille?
‘That might look good, or sound good; it is not sustainable and largely ineffective because the criminals just wait out the soldiers because they know, very soon, they are going back to barracks; back to square one…’
(Al-Rawi pauses for impact).
Faris: So, Dr Prime Minister, in light of this speech, which is available to everyone online, how do you really propose we proceed?
(All eyes in the room turn to Rowley, who stiffens in his seat. Rowley gets off his chair and paces the floor with hands clasped behind his back. Then, dramatically, he turns to face his Cabinet and slams his first on the desk).
Keithos: This time, we will keep the soldiers on the street. Permanently!
(The room erupts in cheers. Smith kisses McDonald again. Someone covers Young with a blanket and momentarily holds him outside a window).
Fitzie: You ketch them boss! Excellent plan!
Keithos: Faris, make yourself useful for once and call Maxie. And tell him don’t mess up this announcement eh… As a matter of fact, forget Maxie. Dillon and I will announce this ourselves.
The people should hear this from their prime minister. Great idea, eh Dillon?
Dillon: Yes, Prime Minister.
Editor’s Note: This column is pure satire and all conversations are faked. No offence is meant at parties named; although they probably deserve it.
And, of course, our thanks to former British sitcom: Yes, Prime Minister.
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Kudos to the Guardian for placing the word “Muslim” in parenthesis …… a practice I wish foreign publications would adopt when covering Islamic extremists.
I also want to commend the paper for specifying that the brothers are being held for questioning. More often than not the terms “held”, “detained” and arrested are used interchangeably by media and citizen alike.
Muslim is the name of the gang in war against the Rasta City gang
I know Savitri, but without the parenthesis it could naturally be assumed that they are legitimately affiliated with the actual faith.
Yes because remember the prison breakout? A lot of people didnt know that the name was “muslim”, they thought it was faith based.
True Vernal. That was responsible of them. But you’re not happy that they did the same for “Rasta City”? You don’t care about rastas’ good name or wot?! Lol.
Plenty bald head men in “rasta city” causing ruckus in the nation!
I am remiss.
Show of force or show of farce?
When you place soldiers as Ministers of National Security, what do you expect their solutions to crime will be? More militarization of crime strategies.
Soldiers do not consider use of better ‘forensics’, or reformation of prisoners, better evidence gathering etc. They only think – FORCE.
The effect of the lockdown is to cause the criminals to spread to other parts of the country. You will notice an increase in robberies in others part of the country, and when the suspects are held or killed, they are usually from Laventille (not always, but there is a noticeable increase).
The PNM had all the answers in Opposition, it is time to stop blaming the previous administration and implement…
Laventille has been a PNM constituency for over 50 years, yet they are so underdeveloped. On what basis do they vote? What do their MPs do during their terms in Office? So much can be said….
Great satire but thought provoking. Check it Tricia Beckles, Marguerite Delpesh, Wendell Wallace
Back to the future!! Love it..
Shut your face ..talking loud and saying nothing.
These poldier deployments in response to increased murders in specific areas are equivalent to women drinking a hot Guinness after unprotected sex …… your rational mind knows damned well it’s a futile act, but desperation demands that you try it nonetheless!
Rubbish! What is needed is sustained effort on a large scale to stamp out the murders and eliminate as many weapons as possible. The long term solutions can follow.
Gerard please enlighten me on how to implement a sustained effort on a large scale to stamp out murders and eliminate as many weapons as possible without enhancing detection capabilities.
Vernal, you might be surprised to learn that many citizens have lots of information that could enhance detection capabilities, but are simply too scared to come forward in the current environment. Make their communities safe and we might just help our detection rates significantly also. It is disingenuous to suggest that a significant decrease in the murder rate can only come about after we implement a comprehensive action plan. Of course a lasting solution requires a holistic and comprehensive approach, but there is action that can be implemented immediately also and we should do so…now!
Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard now we’re getting somewhere. Information is another key aspect in increasing the detection rate, but for that to take place the general public needs to feel confident that they’re giving information to the police will not result in their demise.
How do the members of the public give information to soldiers about suspect illegal activities? And what do soldiers do then?
They can’t get a search warrant. They can only act in presence of policemen.
It is also very complicated and not as simple as you might think Gerard.
I know members of the public are wary of police. But nobody has properly explained why the presence of the army will solve that issue.
Lasana, I don’t expect that the soldiers will be the ones to receive the information, but they may be helpful
In creating the right environment where the public would feel safe enough to come forward with such. Too much negativity and too few constructive suggestions, imho.
Yuh understand? Just give up brother. It’s no use. What’s the alternative. At the end of the day, DETECTION will make the difference. It’s the best deterrent. But what also needs to happen is to remove the old archaic law that doesn’t identify suspects. The public MUST be able to know who are in their midst, or they’d continue to be sharing the “same space” with the rest of us, UNDETECTED, instead of having to be hiding. That’s one way to help with the poor detection rate or else people will literally get away with murder.
Damned if yuh do, damned if yuh don’t. Just put the blasted thing on auto-pilot.
It was Rowley who explained why it was a horrible idea. All I did was reminded him of that fact.
The emphasis was not even on the soldiers when he made the comment. But why was it necessary anyhow (The reminder)?
I think all previous administrations knew what was needed and didn’t do it. We will see with this one. I was a boy then but I do remember hearing of the Scotland yard investigation into the police service and police corruption. What ever became of that report? Was any action taken against the corrupt officers identified then? I remember hearing recently some of then still in the service. Corrupt officer mean there are other corrupt public and private servants, where they ever rooted out? Was any investigation done to weed them out. I refuse to believe that we are only 54 year old and nobody in the police and govt can say the drugs lords are x,y,z. The corrupt personnel are x,y,z. The corrupt politician are x,y,z.
I believe that we refuse to point them out because it is to certain sectors benefit. We can’t throw up our hands in despair. I believe in God, but belief must also have action behind it otherwise it is lime sitting in an idiling car dreaming of the each but you not moving. We each have a small part to play starting in our home, community. I find it hard to believe that the blimp was once a bunch of grannys who just cared, or retired teachers who just cared or parents who just cared. Now we need a floating blimp. Once CCTV was the corner house macho, or neighbours looking out for each other now CCTV on a street pole and we hoping ttec do t take current or that the cameras actually working.
Our PM asked each of us to take personal responsibility. I pray that they (this admin) have the balls to drunk the medicine and do the unpopular thing and point out, identify, have the necessary agency arrest, prosecute jail those few who are funding and fueling the situation.
If you read the Scott drug report, some names were called. Nothing done.
Name one properly functioning public institution in TnT. Police are given top of the line training in the UK and US at taxpayers’ expense. Trainers come to TnT and train them also at taxpayers’ expense. However, once trained there is next to zero implementation of the training. The issue is not police corruption it is there are no consequences for persons who simply fail to do what they are paid to do. Once upon a time in the late minutes of a game the football team in the lead would waste time by making back passes with their feet which the keeper was allowed to pick up. This killed the flow of the game, and irked fans. FIFA introduced the back pass rule we know now and referees enforced the rule. INSTANTLY the problems of that type of time wasting came to an end. Same thing was done when they introduced rules to deal with “professional fouls”. Now imagine if a football game was officiated the way TnT police deal with crime. In TnT slavery and indentureship meant lots of work for no pay or little pay…….independence means little work for maximum money.
We do what the British did the IRA
The IRA was a terrorist group at war with the British Gov’t. The gangsters in Laventille are not similar I think.
Lasana, I’m not too sure about that eh.
At some point we have to stop all the pointless negativity and criticism and DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING! If we try something and it fails, then try something different, but for God’s sake do something. Instead, the vast majority of talking heads do nothing but whine about what cannot work and what didn’t work in the past. Oh for leadership that will understand that sometimes you have to ignore all the critics and do what you believe is the right thing!
But how can the right thing now be what you said was the wrong thing two years ago?
Because WE in charge now…deal with it.
Talk is cheap! Do what needs to be done!
So the hypocrisy matters not?
Gerard you keep saying we need to try something, anything, but all we’re doing is trying what has failed dozens of times in the past.
It’s like constantly taking aspirin for stomach viruses even though it never works.
Gerard, if we were trying something new, then I would say: let us see what happens. But we have been down this road before.
What we are really asking for is something better. At best, this is a stop gap measure. So we hope it comes in conjunction with something else.
But the PM said he wants to KEEP soldiers on the streets. Isn’t that worrying? Is this martial law creeping in?
But I think that’s the problem. None of the politicians seems to understand what truly needs to be done. So all they’re giving is talk
Chabeth Haynes Rowley know what’s needed, he just has yet to do it.
You have more faith in him than I, Vernal.
The power to act decisively and effectively has been taken away from the police service By the Media and this very Government while they were on the other side,now they expect full force,Extra mile???Let me know when you get to the end of the Rainbow.
Chabeth Haynes all I know is what he said.
I have faith in him, but of late it has wane.
Mitra Persad do you care to elaborate, because I’m certain you pulled that out of nowhere.
Hahaha. This will be good Vernal. Let’s hear how the naughty media and Opposition made all Kamla’s wonderful crime fighting plans fail.
Kamla put the most wanted man in the country as her National Security Minister and you want to blame the media and the Opposition for the crime under her watch Mitra?!
Allyuh have jokes yes! Lol.
I think when some Trinidadians are born the doctor yells “ROWLEY” as he slaps them!
Simple,every time the police service went into an area to deal with a situation,the media was there first,Always giving airtime to whoever had their two cents to give.And effectively nullifying any action to be taken by the police. I dealing strictly with the Police service,I don’t know where “Kamla” come into this topic,some petticoats starting to show boy…..
My impression of Rowley has always been that he is an imminently sensible man. It might be that he is keeping his cards close to his chest as far as reform goes.
But, very sorry, I cannot give anyone blind loyalty. He will have to explain himself.
I thought you were coming with a UNC pitch Mitra. Like you turned over a new leaf in the New Year. 🙂
If the media gets to crime scenes faster than the police you blame the media?
Obviously another improvement needed then is the police’s response time, not so?
Now Mitra Persad you also mentioned that “this government” had a hand in taking away the police’s power to act decisively ……. explain nah!
The point you made about blind loyalty,I uphold that as well,I respect a person for political preference or whatever their views are,we are only human.
Alright den ….. doh bother!
Vernal Damion Cadogan the very fact that the prime minister is implementing ideas that he vehemently rubbished when suggested by the last Admin. would suggest that he was just “opposing” If he comes up with a brilliant solution(like he was alluding that he had during campaign season),I would be the first to say that my initial misgivings were WRONG.
Criticizing a flawed policy while in opposition is not taking away the police’s power to act decisively even if they implement that same flawed policy while in government.
FB is the best, yes. Steups, oui!
Lasana, of course it’s a stop gap measure. But the shit has to be stopped while we develop a more long term solution.
A week would achieve nothing, in my view. It’s going to be a long hard road but we must start. Of course I agree that we do not want a military state either, but given the choice between anarchy and a military state I will choose the latter.
That was just my observation over the last three years or so,it was unsettling how often media personnel were on to scenes with prepared scripts,interviewees etc.Sometimes in territories where the most brazen criminals will think twice,three times to venture.My point is ;as a nation you want the Police service to act,deliver,deal with the criminal element,but you always cramping their style,always up in their faces with cameras(sometimes LIVE broadcasts) It will never work,as long as the criminal element is getting sympathy from the Media.What they are doing is supporting crime in the name of “The Big Story”
Lasana Liburd a week a month or even a year, deploying soldiers does nothing to identify and arrest murderers.
Vernal, perhaps you don’t appreciate that the first thing that many of us who live here want to achieve is for the murders to STOP. Identifyiing and arresting the perpetrators can follow.
My scenario, Vernal, would only be to help the police take charge of the scene. And leave. Not stick around playing detectives and getting in trouble.
I’d agree with you Gerard. But I’m worried that the PM said he wants to keep the army there permanently and he did not give any hint of a plan beyond that.
This is what really worries me. I wouldn’t mind so much if the soldiers were just going in for a week.
Much like the SoE, all these military deployments do is cause the murderers to shift their activity elsewhere.
If you wanna stop murders you have to arrest, prosecute, convict and sentence murderers ….. it’s that simple.
Locking down the area simply obliges murderers to lie temporarily dormant until they figure out how to adapt their murderous ways to the new environment.
We’ve seen this dozens of times before.
Lasana Liburd what does taking charge of the scene entail?
It means if the police are somehow too scared to enter and unable to calm things down and they feel the army can do that, then by all means.
As I said elsewhere, I really don’t believe gangsters would continue shooting indiscriminately if they were eight police squad cars in Laventille.
But if soldiers helped in that limited manner, I would accept that.
As one Laventille resident said on TV6 last night regarding the joint Police/Army operation yesterday, “Is better the people grumble than mothers bawl”. I agree!
That’s an unfortunate utterance.
Mothers will still bawling because murderers are still able to operate with impunity, they’ll just avoid patrolled areas.
I believe that the views of the residents of Laventille are more relevant than yours, my friend.
You and I naturally have differing beliefs.
Where I live for a long time had a murder rate comparable to that of East Port of Spain, the NYPD got serious and along with increased police (not poldier) patrols invested in technology, poll mounted cameras to capture images to identify criminals, hotline numbers and text numbers where beleaguered citizens could anonymously report criminality without fear of reprisals.
Today this precinct has the highest reduction in crime in the entire city.
Laventille ain’t New York and the TTPS ain’t the NYPD!!
Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard there are parts of New York that are strikingly similar to Laventille.
Don’t get tie up, New York is more than Manhattan.
No Lasana all I was asking if it was true about the arrest? I know it is a lot before convection. That’s all I wanted to know.
Okay. I’m really not sure. But this is a reason why we cannot solve crime without the courts. Even if the police did a great job, they would be undermined by a slow, cumbersome judicial system.
And let’s not pretend as though the criminal justice system is entirely dependent on witnesses eh. The police need to have the training and equipment at their disposal to identify and collect evidence without contamination.