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.
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).
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.
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.