Home / View Point / Left over dick and riding West with the TTPS; why we will be feteing with murderers

Left over dick and riding West with the TTPS; why we will be feteing with murderers

This year 2017 is likely to be one of the most challenging for our country since Independence.

My fellow columnists have already laid out for us the stark reality of spending more than we earn compounded by a voracious appetite for things foreign when our severely reduced earnings have meant that there are less inflows of foreign exchange into the Treasury.

Photo: Senior members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service during an address by then National Security Minister John Sandy in 2010. (Courtesy News.Gov.TT)
Photo: Senior members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service during an address by then National Security Minister John Sandy in 2010.
(Courtesy News.Gov.TT)

My principal concern remains the disastrous state of our institutional infrastructure. Currently at the head of the disaster list is the lack of results from the police service combined with the continuous ridiculous attempts of the police high command to sell us the idea that serious crime has decreased when the murder rate is astronomical and what is equally bad are the failures to build a case and apprehend and prosecute the killers.

I would not be so unwise as to go West with the entire service and I return to not going West later in this column.

Given the practice of the police high command of accountability by selective statistics, I have some statistics for consideration. There were 462 murders in 2016, that is a murder rate of 1.26 murders per day. Reports of the detection rates for crime generally suggest a detection rate of only 17 percent. That means that a mere 78 of the 462 murderers will be prosecuted.

If, as is believed, the detection rate for murder is much lower than the detection rate for crime generally, then at a 10 percent detection rate for murder, only 46 murderers will be prosecuted.

The upshot of my statistical exercise so far is that between 384 and 416 murderers are free and enjoying the impunity with which they have killed.

I turn next to the Carnival fete statistics. One report stated that—excluding calypso, National Carnival Commission events and small promoters—there will be 140 major fetes in 59 days during the Carnival season 2017 that is 2.37 fetes per day. (A bare statistic given that fetes are mainly concentrated on weekends).

Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Using next an annual murder rate of 462, there will be 74 murders while we are feteing and at a detection rate of 10 percent, 66 of the murderers will be free to mingle, fete and play mas

This statistical comparison may shed light on the alleged “Carnival mentality”, which inhibits serious development within the society—but that is not the only reason for its relevance.

As I have recounted before, for many years, persons would tell me on Carnival days in which band one might see a person of interest in the Akiel Chambers murder.  More recently mas playing circles expect to see a person of interest in the murder of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya, strangled on Carnival Tuesday last year, around and about.

Who knows which of the other 383 undetected murderers of last year will dance and revel among us?

That is not the only murder matter left over from last year. We have left over dick in the form of the vainglorious remarks of Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Wayne Dick, made just before Christmas, concerning the Shannon Banfield murder.

In the Trinidad Express, media practitioner Andy Johnson has already taken apart what Dick said to reporters about a strong case and the so-called co-operation of the store owner where Shannon was found.  I would just add that I am surprised that other media personnel accept that a case is “solved” without the conclusion of a successful prosecution.

Photo: Murdered bank employee Shannon Banfield. (Courtesy Justice for Shannon Banfield)
Photo: Murdered bank employee Shannon Banfield.
(Courtesy Justice for Shannon Banfield)

Additionally, I was amazed at Dick’s other answers about the delay in searching the premises where Shannon was eventually found, apparently because someone reported she had left the store which was her last known stop on her way home.

These dicks—a slang word for many things including “rude, abrasive or inconsiderate persons”—routinely insult our intelligence with other phrases besides “strong case” such as “investigations at a sensitive stage” and “file awaiting instructions”.

Let me re-affirm that my experience of our policemen is that they try their best against many handicaps, including the supremacy of the hardcore rogue element, and they ought not to be subjected to general condemnation. That is why I do not say the entire police service is going west—a British term for describing something that is “lost spoiled or damaged in some way.”

Ironically the head of our Police Complaints Authority is named West and he made an unwise blanket statement about the police service. I am not sure that his fairly prompt apology will relieve him of a challenge in the law courts.

As to the more sinister aspects of the rogue element in the police service, this is well documented since 1991 but we have been obsessed with, at any cost, election winning and wining. That is why we have so much left over dick from each old year to the new.

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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40 comments

  1. Like this was something new we didnt know…..havent we been living with this since Sept 2015? After carnival we still have to deal with it……smh!

  2. I want to echo Kenneth H. Ransome, Jr. comments that:

    1. There are many nationals living abroad with the expertise to address the challenges within the service’
    2. We have a history of importing folks that have good PR but bad performance like Bratton, even the former convicted Bernard Kerik who took money from the mob

    Brian Harry is correct that studies have been completed and corrective action plans never implemented. I had the benefit of extensive meetings with a former Commissioner of Police and was shocked to find that he knew ALL the steps that need to be implemented, he had multiple studies on his shelves that recommended what was required. Unfortunately, he did not have the funding nor the POLITICAL support to implement what was required.

    One point that is often ignored when we discuss policing that the former COP, I spoke with emphasized was the need to coordinate policing with economic activities, social services and educational activities such that policing is not viewed as the only tool to deal with crime. He viewed it as the society needing to deal with crime as a result of economic inequality and a lack of quality accessible education.

    A final observation for me was the shocking low compensation that TTPS officers earn, when indexed globally the salary and benefits structure is poor compensation for the risks.

    Questions need to be asked of our former National Security Minister, Carl Alfonso, Gary Griffith, Jack Warner, John Sandy,Martin Joseph,Howard Chin Lee and Basdeo Pandayas to why these these plans are not implemented.

    Its easy to always point at the COP and the service but I think this is the easy way out.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me that TT, a nation whose culture devalues performance, delivery, productivity, accountability or ROI, consistently expects its officials to function within those parameters ….

  4. Lasana, with all due respect, I wouldn’t hold out Gary Griffith as an authority on police or crime-related matters. All it takes to be a Minister of National in Security in T&T is political connections; not necessarily the knowledge and ability to do the job. Bear in mind, this is the person who initiated to have the previous government buy armored vehicles to fight crime. Furthermore, he is a proponent of the “broken glass theory” which you are aware is seriously flawed. By the way, he is the one who brought William Bratton to Trinidad and paid him a couple millions of taxpayers’ money to testify about the “broken glass theory”. I think you would get more substance out of the Lady who got the NHA house for Christmas and wanted to turn it down than from Gary Griffith.

    • Gary Griffith however was as effective as the system would allow. Those who know him know that he’s not one for political correctness

    • I understand. But I didn’t see it as a crime related matter really. The question really is how the PSC evaluates the CoP, how that can be changed, and what role if any the National Security Minister plays in it.
      I’d expect any high ranking person at ministry to be able to answer that. Gary stood out merely by being the most likely to be willing to share an opinion. That’s all.

    • Lasana Liburd ok so go to the source and ask the PSC. How many ministers know the nitty gritty of the psc matters? The PS is more likely to work closely with the psc

    • Brian what you say makes sense. But it is not easy to get information from the public sector unless you are willing to get stuck in.
      And it isn’t my field. So I was looking for a shortcut.

    • Lasana Liburd a good person to speak with would be Ramesh Deosaran – he’s credible and very knowledgeable. Discuss with him Professor Mastrofski and Cynthia Lum led change management consultancy. Why was it not implemented? Who had responsibility for implementation (several bodies)? Why wasn’t the CoP not selected at the time and how they suggested? What got us to where we are? Just some suggested questions for a source who might be open to a discussion. If it’s adversarial he will not talk and shouldn’t – he’s as concerned as all of us

    • I publicly criticized Deosoran over some stuff during the tenure of Gibbs and Warner. But fair enough.

    • Lasana Liburd ok but he’s a ware house of knowledge and he’s very credible. I don’t know the nature of your issue with him and I don’t always agree with him myself but he’s the best we have as far as experts go

    • Oh Jeezan does it have anyone else except him he has been on every board or consulting and anything to do with crime and the Police service is it him or governments come they go and he being paid to present plans that they just don’t use……mind you I have nothing against the gentleman I am just asking is there anyone else????

    • Neisha Dowridge does it matter if it’s just him? And no there’s no one else with the depth of research and knowledge in the area in TT. When you find one please share. The man works hard at his specialty so I prefer to applaud his long years of work which our country ignores

    • Brian Harry I simply asked a question did you not read my comment!!

    • Neisha Dowridge yes I read the whole comment.

  5. Guys on this thread who are currently living in Trinidad or Tobago, I has a simple exercise for you that would give some clarity on the problem with the TTPS. Have a conversation with member of the TTPS in who appears to be around 40-45 years old and who has been in the service over 20 years and ask that officer (1) which First Division Officer (other than Stephen Williams) they see capable of running the TTPS in the future, and (2) What do they think is the main problem with the TTPS. You would be amazed by the response (or lack thereof for question #1) from those two simple questions.

  6. I really don’t care to hear from him, he contributed nothing of value when he was well positioned to.

  7. I think Griffith being now an outsider–and one who doesn’t mind seeing his name in lights–can be useful in such things.

  8. It would as far as I am concerned.
    An informed populous is the most difficult and challenging to govern. You see if you inform a population as to what are the necessary steps to be taken to improve their society invariably they would demand it.
    The fact that the TTPS abysmal murder detection rate is available for all to see yet so many still believe that executing murderers that cannot be identified, much less apprehended, charged and convicted is evidence enough as to why a sensible assessment mechanism for CoPs has never been suggested.

  9. I remain pessimistic about the effectiveness of any analysis or plan for crime that doesn’t emphasise getting the white collar criminals that facilitate criminal enterprise. Mr Daly or Bhoe Tewarie might awaken some hope if they address the Clico situation, for example.

  10. Vernal Damion Cadogan, should I challenge former National Security Minister Gary Griffith to explain what has to be done to create a sensible assessment mechanism for our CoP? And why that hasn’t been done already?
    Or would that be a waste of a column?

    • Challenging Gary Griffith will get nothing, nit because he’s bad or anything. There was a detailed change plan done fir the TTPS in early 2000’s that has never been implemented and that not the fault of the CoP but there were several agencies tasked with the process that fell down. Dwayne Gibbs tried to get some of it going and got on the wrong side of the politics.

  11. That’s precisely it Lasana, but you see in Trinidad the more authority one is bestowed with the less accountable and responsible one automatically becomes.

  12. There are other practical measures too. Keron King pointed out that acting Commissioner of Police gets passing grades every year because there isn’t a weighting mechanism in his evaluation that, for instance, might rank apprehending a murderer more than apprehending a petty thief.
    I am sure a look at the evaluation of the lawmen would be very interesting. And you can’t blame the lawmen for that. Blame their supervisors–who are the State and, ultimately, us.

    • Earl Best

      Lasana, Keron King gave a kind of commitment last month to try to write something for Wired. Maybe he needs a reminder that we’re all waiting for it, Keron, you there?

  13. Crime resolution rate, including successful conviction, will improve if the leadership in policing, governance, and the judicial arena ‘give’ a genuine ear to those qualified, skilled, dedicated, and highly experienced T&T citizens who have knowledge of proven and innovative solutions to T&T crime problem. These T&T citizens’ performances are having positive impact in foreign countries. Why not in T&T? Sadly, these folks are ignored and discouraged, I think. I’m guessing, is it because they are not of a certain clique or is it that T&T decision-makers love throwing money at white foreigners who do not understand the T&T psyche and culture? Seems we love spinning top in mud…

  14. Wasted my time reading this.

    • Because when I was done I felt like it didn’t enlighten me on anything that I didn’t already have some idea about…but more importantly it clearly was an attempt by the author to be ‘cute’ with his play on words — dick, etc– and it was just stupid and un-witty…but that’s just me…I can be kind of a dick when I’m ready…see what I did there;)

    • Don’t really read this Wired shit but what Mr Daly said and I quote…”Ironically the head of our Police Complaints Authority is named West and he made an unwise blanket statement about the police service. I am not sure that his fairly prompt apology will relieve him of a challenge in the law courts.” ……Is very interesting. So is he saying Mr West should resign?

    • Fair enough Tony. Jokes are subjective and you’re in your right to find those limp. (I tried! Lol).
      Some rehashes are important though. I think he was trying to drive home a point to the large cross section who do not appreciate what our low detection rate means I guess.

    • Earl Best

      I understand your frustration, Tony.

      I think Martin is genuinely trying to make some valid points about about attitudes and inefficiency in Trinidad and Tobago. However, it comes over as a kind of none-too-serious, intellectual game, not just because of the puns and the superficial use of stats but also because of the essential subject matter which seems rather trivial despite its grand overarching message.

      Maybe Martin is slowly warming up for a bumper new year…