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Limited Thinking! Why T&T Governments get nowhere in “war on crime”

“The refusal to implement 21st century ideology into the police force means a continuation of a weak police infrastructure. It means a continuation of the lack of accountability within a sector that has a rogue element that undermines its performance.

“When we continue inanely with systems that have failed us, the only explanation is that hands are tied by the real power brokers of the country.”

The following Letter to the Editor on the perceived limited thinking by the State in tackling crime was submitted to Wired868 by Sheldon Waithe:

Photo: An actor playing late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar gestures with a bullet during the Netflix series, Narcos.
Photo: An actor playing late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar gestures with a bullet during the Netflix series, Narcos.

A limited State of Emergency? Really? We did not learn from the last instance when this ultimate power in our Constitution was subject to heinous abuse and rolled out without explanation.

It is another glaring piece of evidence that we truly exchange one government for another, so we can expect the same toothless thinking from above. That it is being suggested from quarters outside the walls of Parliament points to the desperation of a helpless nation.

The State of Emergency of 2011 was a period where no long term or meaningful crime fighting initiatives were implemented; the then Government relied on the restriction of movement placed upon the entire nation to bring a stop to the murders and then crowed that between August and October there was a reduction in murders.

Even by the standard of this nation’s blind culture, it is absurd to expect that people would not see through the glaring hole that the idea to attack the daily erosion of our people, is to remove the rights of the entire population—and even then, it would not be used to implement a strategy that can ably tackle crime.

Any Trinbagonian government should recognise that once the normal failing national security system is back in place, then as a consequence the normal abysmal homicide rate would also be back in place.

Photo: Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon. (Copyright CNC3)
Photo: Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon.
(Copyright CNC3)

The State of Emergency—begging your pardon, ‘Limited’—is supposed to show the seriousness of the government’s intent. A facade that there may be a crime plan on the horizon, so that in effect it masks the fact that there is no—and never was—a crime plan? We cannot go that route once again.

Trinidad and Tobago cannot have a strategic, meaningful crime plan until we have a government made up of individuals who are prepared to make the harsh decisions that can put a dent into crime.

The root causes of crime are not those persons killing or being killed as part of our daily headlines, they are not the ones with the network—it does not have to be elaborate to get past our current security systems—to bring in the weapons and drugs.

So, a government that is not prepared to target the root causes of crime cannot declare nor implement a crime plan, because that crime plan is doomed to failure. And a failed crime plan is bad Public Relations.

The reason that successive governments have not declared any type of long term action to tackle crime in this nation is that they cannot. The refusal to adopt a zero tolerance policy means playing into the hands at the end of the corruptive tentacles that run deep into every part of the society and that facilitates the inaction against the root causes of crime and more specifically, murders.

Photo: A crime boss relaxes in the shadows.
Photo: A crime boss relaxes in the shadows.

How else do we explain governments—whether PNM, UNC or PP—refusing to take the hardline against crime?

The nation remains anchored with the appalling level of corruption in the society that means from the very top there is a culture of no accountability and therefore no reprimand.

In the decades of T&T’s existence as a drugs capital, there has not been a single example of any major individual being tried and forced to serve time for the deeds that have also led to us being a murder capital of the world.

It is a pipe dream, for we would have to live in a society that was prepared to arrest such persons in the first instance, having targeted them and gained evidence.

The refusal to implement 21st century ideology into the police force means a continuation of a weak police infrastructure. It means a continuation of the lack of accountability within a sector that has a rogue element that undermines its performance.

When we continue inanely with systems that have failed us, the only explanation is that hands are tied by the real power brokers of the country.

What is the resistance to aid in the appointing of a permanent Commissioner of Police?

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

Or taking the logical approach of recognising that we simply do not have the ability within these borders to turn the tide against crime—the ever increasing murder rate over decades proves this, even if the current Acting Commissioner refuses to recognise that we are in crisis—and so we can import the expertise, mechanisms and personnel untainted by our local corruption?

The murder problem will take time to resolve, that can be appreciated, but at the moment there is nothing being done. Nothing.

Where do the Government and Opposition see this trajectory taking us if they do not deem the current situation to be of crisis proportions and to be tackled as the number one priority?

It is wrong to state that they are all clueless about tackling widespread crime; the correct assessment is that they are—for whatever reasons—unwilling to tackle rampant crime. Full stop.

Jamaica—whose crime rate we once used as a warning bell—is preparing to produce its strategic long term crime plan while T&T tries to sweep the blood under the carpet with stats about violence being down or subliminal admissions that really, there is nothing that the forces feel they can do to alleviate the situation.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC. (Copyright Power102fm)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC.
(Copyright Power102fm)

The better approach would be to admit the problem, admit the inadequacies, then own it and change it.

Trinidad and Tobago is truly the land of limbo, for that is where our crime plan exists and every day the bar goes a little lower…

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156 comments

  1. Earl Best

    So there is no disputing your conclusion that “every day the bar goes a little lower…”

    And starting with the accession to power of the PP Government in 2010, we have consistently seen how low several very visible members of Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s inner circle with legal training contort their silk-clad bodies to limbo successfully under the ever lower bar.

  2. Earl Best

    “Where do the Government and Opposition see this trajectory taking us if they do not deem the current situation to be of crisis proportions and to be tackled as the number one priority?

    It is wrong to state that they are all clueless about tackling widespread crime; the correct assessment is that they are—for whatever reasons—unwilling to tackle rampant crime. Full stop.”

    I disagree. Government and Opposition ARE indisputably “clueless about tacking widespread crime;” that the Rowley Govt needed, by the PM’s own admission, a year and a half in office before it could do anything is evidence enough about the Govt. But Rowley and co. are very conscious that inaction could cost them the next electio; since September 2015, he has said no fewer than 12 times in public that the level of crime is “unacceptable.”

    But if we are going to make a difference by free and frank discussion, we have, I think, to start by admitting that the current Opposition is a part of the problem and NOT a part of the solution. If anyone is looking for evidence of that, (s)he needs only read the lead story on today’s Express.

  3. Earl Best

    “When we continue inanely with systems that have failed us, the only explanation is that hands are tied by the real power brokers of the country.

    What is the resistance to aid in the appointing of a permanent Commissioner of Police?”

    Can that question be other than rhetorical given what immediately precedes it? Methinks not.

  4. Earl Best

    “How else do we explain governments—whether PNM, UNC or PP—refusing to take the hardline against crime?”

    Patrick Manning took the hard line. OPV’s, beefed up security system, a Finance Authority that threatened the corruption in Licensing Office, Customs, BIR, etc.How did we, including the current PM and AG, reward him?

    So I want to suggest that there is no way out of this, mister, except a tsunami, a devastating hurricane, an earthquake or some other act of God that wipes the political slate clean and gives us a chance to start from scratch.

  5. Earl Best

    “Trinidad and Tobago cannot have a strategic, meaningful crime plan until we have a government made up of individuals who are prepared to make the harsh decisions that can put a dent into crime.”

    It may sound like sophistry, like splitting hairs, but I think it necessary to point out that decisions can be HARD without being HARSH.

  6. The fix:

    1) Every public servant and government contractor must submit a hair sample, DNA sample and a full 10 digit plus palm print. Start a database.

    2) Bring back the death penalty

    3) All tourist entering the country for more that 48 hours must pass background check before entering and should be given a temporary traveling ID number.

    4) Bring back foot police, make police officers start walking through communities. 4 police officers per squad

    5) Communities invest in community watch and link this program to the 999 rapid response emergency.

  7. Welcome to the world we live in….anybody and everybody gets alway with breaking the law

  8. We all have our piece to say about what causes crime. Making drugs legal is a backward step that tells the criminals, druglords, ” you win and we will make your business legal and you can look for Usd like a normal businessman”.
    Some suggest the deployment of the Defense Force. But what will they do really except accompany the police into hot spots or on patrol or raids.
    We need to immediately recruit into a new department officers with appropriate degrees to be trained in modern investigative tech.
    We need new staff to provide forensic support especially DNA.
    We need to establish partnerships with foreign police agencies for support and intelligence.
    We need a strong policing of the policing force to target the rogue elements.
    We need more judges and we need a police unit to police the judges. How can people with four and fives charges still get bail.

    I am sure that we can all come up with good ideas.

    Can someone with the will and facility have a round table, not one with a head table, to develope ideas and strategies to present to our Government with much fangare instead of secretly.
    A head table often only produce the thoughts of the head table.
    Handing a paper to the govt with much fanfare may get some response rathat than it being dumped in a bin.

  9. Yes – I believe that if 21st Century technology is implemented in “ALL SECTORS” of the country, it will not solve everything, but it might go a long way with helping the Police Service move at a faster pace in their investigations. Just saying.

  10. My opinion is the violence we experience is not from organized institutional criminal activity but from the “pirates” operating outside structured approved channels. If we decrease local consumption through drug treatment, education and social services we will have a greater affected on decreasing crime. The USA has been utilizing criminal justice processes for decades with hyper policing and draconian sentencing to no significant success. A couple suggestions below:

    1. Legalise marijuana immediately so we can stop wasting scarce resources on a drug that has limited damage to society.
    2. Recognize and accept that we have insufficient resources to wage or win a “war” on TnT as a transshipment point. The local and global economy have a level of dependence on the proceeds of drug trafficking that our(government, citizens and all institutions) impotency can not change with viagra fueled criminal justice system reforms.
    3. Focus resources on eliminating the local consumption of cocaine and heroin. The murder rate is one component but the strain on education, criminal justice systems and healthcare is astronomical to the society over the long term.

    We must change the paradigm by stop trying to solve crime through criminal justices systems but analyzing how we distribute national income, over population due to poor land use and racism. Fortunately we are small enough to solve this problem on the micro level. Until we have the courage to integrate the poor into our society with transportation, education, economic opportunity and social programs we will have a crime problem. A good case study though not perfect is the once murder capital of the world, Medellin, Colombia.

    We must look inside focusing on those that we have consistently left behind. Together we aspire, together we achieve or we get what we have today.

  11. They get nowhere on crime because there are doctors. lawyers, police and soliders that are in on the muders in this country.

  12. There’s no war on crime here.

    • We could criticise Chin Lee and the other previous Mins of Nat Security, but with operation anaconda, the blimp etc, getting joint army patrols, at least civilians felt a little sense of security. We get the sense now that nothing is being done. The PM now after 16 months wants to engage people in talks! Sigh.

    • There’s a race to say what will not work but no one seems to know what will

    • And I keep saying, since the answer to what will work may not ever be found, do we give up or put life on hold, or do we just put all hands on deck? Activate the judiciary, justice, citizenry machine!

    • Policing would work Mel Lissa. They should give that a try! Lol.
      I will give you an example: If you find out that there is a $2 million worth of drugs on a compound, what would you do if you wanted to put a dent in crime.
      And then tell me what you think the police would do!

    • Of course policing helps at a superficial level because there is a lot wrong in the higher echelons that the officer on the beat cannot set right. It is from top to bottom.

    • Yes
      The elephant in the room that those in authority refuses to acknowledge – TTPS

    • But the TTPS is corrupted from external forces though. The Mr Bigs. So as much as I criticise them, I do understand that they want to get home to their families too.
      Most I can ask is for the lawmen not to become corrupted. But it is hard to fight the system by yourself.

    • Lasana Liburd…u mean…real policing. Which entails insteAd of burning a field, we wait, however long, and try to get the person who is planting and taking care of the field? Lol

    • Lasana Liburd…then it is high time to revisit having contract officers-retired from outside of TnT- work alongside current force for said reason.

  13. The bigger portion of the national budget goes towards security yet there’s NOTHING to show .. actually, crime has gotten worse and every budget we see an increase of funds in this area

  14. I guess that I’m missing something. I don’t get the point of the article, except that its a restatement of all that has been said for a few years. It starts out by saying that we need 21st Century policing methods, yet suggests none – doesn’t even venture a guess. It comes close to saying that unless we fix the corruption etc at the top we won’t be able to reduce in a sustainable way the murder rate etc. What I find disappointing is that most individuals, though they grasp the systemic point which this article comes close to suggesting (but which I believe to be the main issue) still think that its a simple matter of ‘firing the police commissioner’. I’m not suggesting that he’s good or not good and I carry no brief for him. As a nation we like to skirt the issues, because facing the issues will push us to confront our political allegiances – at least thats the way we think. Crime cuts across political, cultural, social divides and its time that as citizens we seek a holistic response. Let’s begin with calling it what it is – its a fish rotting from the head – unless we address corruption in high places, the ineffectiveness of the judiciary, the poor morale in the police service, the poor and antiquated systems in place for solving crime (no DNA lab, locally, lack of digital fingerprinting, poor forensic and ballistics laboratories, other tools, etc) . There has not been a person of stature prosecuted in TT – though our high dollar corruption goes way back to the first oil boom and Rudder sang about it in 1983. Yet we think that we can be a lawful society while our Mr Bigs run rampant and in our face. We on crap! The fish rots from teh head and that’s where to start

    • Been saying to chop the head of the snake, for donkey years

    • Brian, I think 95 percent of the comments on this column are more focused on Mr Big than the police commissioner.

    • The cop is not the problem, it’s the government who protects the drug lords and police who are paid off… get to the real meat of the matter and stop wasting time talking policy and this garbage …. none of them are braver enough to go after the drug lords

    • Gino McKoy…because as I said in another post, I suspect it’s because police and civilians alike can’t at this time differentiate between businessman, politician and criminal! Therefore, who do we go after?

    • Nerisha Mohammed everyone my dear… in all sectors that are interconnected … it’s a web and in order to cleanse the nation, you need a multifaceted approach to tackling the issue..

      For instance, you have worried citizens because if they expose the heads, they will be killed and the govt and police will not protect them because they are in on it, so you need the people to protect them and unite together in a social revolution.. out of this we need a leader who is ready to revitalize the nation..

      It cannot happen if the people as a whole continue to buy into the race rhetoric and continue to sell themselves out for money, this has to be above money

    • Agreed. We also need to consider why when people decide to speak up/out, we question their motives/agenda rather than agree or disagree on the issue at hand. It seems our downfall is once people we align ourselves with-whether race or politically or otherwise-are guilty of immoral and unethical conduct, the standard changes than from persons whom we do not feel a sense of affinity.

    • Lasana Liburd Im not concerned only about what people say on this link – the majority of comments on crime in tt have indeed focused on the commissioner and the police service which I’ve continually said is foolish and myopic

    • Nerisha Mohammed non partisan opinion needs to be respected, I have condemned both governments but when that happens people are quick to jump to, I’m a unc or pnm which is rubbish and serves their agenda, now their agenda is blowing up in their face..

      The two party dictatorship serves only the upper echelon in Trinidad and Tobago society

    • Brian Harry of course it’s myopic because people can’t think or can’t fathom that our politicians, police and certain members of the elite of all races are fuelling the drugs and crime in the nation.. they are afraid or are not intelligent enough to see it

    • They would have good reason to be afraid.

    • Gino McKoy they don’t want to fathom it! Why? Because it will offend their political and class sensitivities

    • Of course not. The little people can bring in cocaine and drugs into the country hampered, it seems. If we are serious about crime, we need crime to stop paying. For a start, enforce all current tax laws. Have household taxes. Link BIR with Legal Affairs. How many people earning $100,000 on paper, but own multiple houses and cars? Have public servants-even if only in certain jobs-also file IC docs. Or again, strengthen tax enforcement. But this clearly demonstrates we are not serious about crime.

    • Lasana Liburd fear God… the rein of the house negro and house Indian must come to an end… this demands social revolution that will purge the nation of this corruption.. it’s now or never brother..

    • Brian Harry no it will offend their wallets, they are afraid to stand for something … but will go for the short term incentive … you see, it needs to get dire in Trinidad, for people to wake up from their ignorance

    • People are studying their wallets more than the lives of the next generation… we live in a generation of cowards

    • Gino McKoy…I have been observing over social media and from the General comments, it seems change is coming. May be slowly. No campaign finance declarations. And EBC should include ‘none of the above’ on ballots. Then let’s see how long they will continue to ignore the people they were put to represent.

    • Gino, these dudes don’t send pre-action protocol letters. They put tags on big toes.
      I can see the average citizen trying to affect their ability to recruit by warning the youth away from gangs, or lessening their local market (although most drugs are for export)… But what else can he do? Make a citizen’s arrest?

    • Nerisha Mohammed well I’ve suggested this over decade ago to Lenny saith when he visited Canada and also for Trinidad to move towards a self sufficient society because we can’t feed our nation, in the event of a war, people will starve and those who have food will be robbed or attacked… the politicians want money to flee and leave their people to die..

      People need to unite to stop them now ..

      It’s better you die for something than live for nothing

    • Gino McKoy the politics, the pockets and the protection are connected

    • I agree with uniting. Of course. Unite and go after the politicians first. Get them to represent us in that war too as they should be doing.

    • Lasana Liburd like you have your funeral director license? What you know about tag on big toe? Lol

    • Lasana Liburd forget citizens arrest, the populous needs vigilantes groups to protect investigative journalists who risk their lives to make change, who can actually expose the heads and put pressure on the politicians, making stand that resonates worldwide … that is the change we are talking about, the concealment of information means you are no longer in a democracy my friend but an oligarchy run by the real criminals

    • Brian Harry but they are limited numbers, the people forget they have numbers, they have intelligence, they have the ability to incite change, who has that fire in their heart, who has that lust for change?

      Who wants to see their children play together and forget the race construct used to divide us as people…

    • Gino McKoy..what I take issue with is the apparent convenience of the service to pursue or not pursue a story. So, if an investigative journalist publishes an in-depth expose, who issues order to investigate within the service?

    • Gino McKoy you are so much more hopeful than I am. I pray that you are right

    • Nerisha Mohammed no one will investigate as our public sector is prone to corruption and bribery… hence the reason we need alternative new sources to educate and mobilize the citizens to fight for change..

      Investigation can be made public because once you get into the public sector you will find hurdles that are placed there to prevent tampering into their corruption.. the public needs to do the inquiries and release it to the masses, this is how you can operate without being barred

    • Nerisha Mohammed the same people who don’t follow up on the expensive forensic audits

    • Trinidad and Tobago can’t win a war on drugs. We haven’t the resources to do so. It is either we become enough of a nuisance that the Cartels choose a different transhipment point or we just satisfy ourselves with mopping up around the drugs business.
      That means holding the offspring of the drug trade. The local bosses. Obviously that will be like whack-a-mole. A never ending battle with them being constantly replaced.
      After that, all you are left with is trying to clean up the violent offspring of the drug trade and locking them up.
      Which of those three would you choose Gino? Or do you see another way?

    • Lasana Liburd…ihu. At the same time, pretend to make an effort with the spiralling crime rate nah. Are the scanners at the port working now? What is the status of the fingerprint and iris scan machines allegedly brought for the airport have they been found and are in use? Computerisation of licensing on the way?

    • Lasana Liburd legalization and decriminalizing of all drugs, taxing it and bringing in the programs I discussed before such as drug rehab and addiction counselling.. my good friend Robert sabga once said that our nation has lost its way because we no longer have the counsellors to help the nation..

      We need to refine our jails and make them truly a place for our people to be rehabilitated as opposed to killing them.. as in Scandinavian nations, they have changed their approach to prison and it is working.. in Portugal they have changed their approach to the war on drugs..

      Once this happens we will see crime rates decrease, the money made from this will go back into better policing and more services and programs for the communities …

      Killing the drug lords is not the answer, you need to change the game, if you don’t change the game the game will change you

    • I definitely agree with at least decriminalising marijuana. Too much of our resources get tied up. And we never seem to hold anybody for cultivation.

    • I agree with you in terms of prison reform. But then we need to clean up the judicial system first.
      I don’t think decriminalising would make much difference. We aren’t the drug consumers. They aren’t trying to sell us anything.
      Their market is Miami or London. We just get the knock-on effect of the drug trade which is guns, money laundering and corruption.

    • Nerisha Mohammed all good implements but it won’t change the mentality of the people operating the machines and duelling the drug economy, it’s a plaster…

      We have to educate and mobilize the people, by changing the way people see drugs you will now in effect change how business is done..taxing is the way to that, you need money to educate the people on its affects and move our nation towards focusing on other things bigger than race..

      Right now you have youths in the ghetto who feel they have no other choice, empower them, let them sell it legally and get taxed, let them feel like they too are a part of the society

    • Yeah Nerisha. But marijuana is only a problem for small fry police. Has very little to do with this battle. I agree with decriminalising marijuana. But I don’t think it will make much difference to this crime war at all.

    • Lasana Liburd, you recall the Vice story? I guess the root of our problem goes back to my statement, that we can’t seem to differentiate between businessmen, politician and criminals. Because, in its simplest terms, if you can identify a criminal, you can deal with them. But when we are fed with stories like a businessman released when allegedly US$2m is found in his container, but a young man is persecuted in the court of public opinion for a young lady’s murder, although they still can’t seem to file a case against him, something has to be wrong with our system.

    • Lasana Liburd heroine and cocaine as well needs to be part of that list… getting the guns off of the block is what is needed and right now they are fighting for turf and the remnants of the drugs that get left here on its way out..

      So by legalizing it you indirectly get rid of the need for guns, everyone sells and it is less of a problem on the population..

      The judicial system is a mess, if it was me, I would get rid of the senate, president and anything related to the privy council..

    • Nerisha Mohammed because the rich pay the money to stay out of court and out of the public eye but if it’s legal, all of a sudden the drug lords lose their grip and now it’s a taxation problem

    • Of course the system is so well rigged that, if they were to legalise it, they will create something like the gas station racket.
      They will say only 60 centres allowed and share it among friends.
      And five big boys in town will have drug centres within a stone’s throw of each other and there will be none from Arima straight to Mayaro! Hahaha.

    • Further to that, by empowering the youths in the ghetto, I would tax them and the tax would go back into their community to help with education, sport, music and other areas to improve their livelihood …. so it would stay within that community

    • Lasana Liburd that’s why you spread it out, read my answer above, keep it within the community and each community can have it, no monopolies my friend

    • Gino McKoy…Jack had a great idea for dealing with all those who allegedly have vaults at home too. Change the currency and let everyone trade in the old. Lol.

      And it can only become a taxation problem once we get serious and enforce current laws for a start.

    • Nerisha Mohammed Lasana Liburd people forget what propped up the international banks, was the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and once the Taliban stopped it, was when the Afghanistan war happened, decriminalize drugs and tax it, the taxes go back to the community they are in and used to build better communities ….

    • When I see the taxes being collected from legalised drugs in the U.S., makes me wonder why instead of burning our marijuana, we don’t just sell it to countries where it is legal.

    • You notice how as soon as the USA mastered the growing and cultivation of marijuana they made it legal .

    • Well it Can happen and would make a viable export… the govt doesn’t want to empower and help the people.. it doesn’t suit their agenda

    • Unfortunately Mr Big finances both KPB and KRC. …so no change for we!

    • Unfortunately Mr Big finances both KPB and KRC. …so no change for we!

  15. Good read but mostly idealism… the government is inherently corrupt, the police force makes more money being a part of the drug trade, sections of our elite are imbedded in the trade…

    A permanent cop and long term plan will not address this… money is at the root of this, once you have limited opps for youths in the ghetto that most of them are coming from broken homes that see drugs and crime as the only way to survive, you will have thus avenue of choice..

    Legalize drugs in TT and tax it, give them work in the sector, create rehab and addiction counselling programs.. the money made should go back to the police dept and other sectors … decriminalize it and be forward thinking..

    We need a 3rd option in TT, if it continues this way without change, a revolution will rise from the people, to rid ourselves of the corrupt..

    Someone needs to stop the govt from raping the treasury and not using the nations money to invest in the people

  16. The real drug kingpins and money launderes who have their tentacles in every institution , are using every means possible to deliberately frustrate law abiding citizens cry for justice .

  17. What about that $700mil in drugs in the juice cans ?

  18. Very good points by everyone . A woman I know reported the existence of a drug block in her community to the 555# , unknown to her is that the info was then passed on to the station in her jurisdiction for follow up . Now if a block exsist right under the noses of police officers at a particular division for years why the hell would they put that very said division to investigate ?

  19. Good read but mostly idealism… the government is inherently corrupt, the police force makes more money being a part of the drug trade, sections of our elite are imbedded in the trade…

    A permanent cop and long term plan will not address this… money is at the root of this, once you have limited opps for youths in the ghetto that most of them are coming from broken homes that see drugs and crime as the only way to survive, you will have this avenue of choice..

    Legalize drugs in TT and tax it, give them work in the sector, create rehab and addiction counselling programs.. the money made should go back to the police dept and other sectors … decriminalize it and be forward thinking..

    We need a 3rd option in TT, if it continues this way without change, a revolution will rise from the people, to rid ourselves of the corrupt..

    Someone needs to stop the govt from raping the treasury and not using the nations money to invest in the people

    • Well, I think he hinted that the problem goes as high as that too. But we are mostly speculating there because obviously we don’t have much info, other than the gentlemen who Uncle Sam are interested in.

    • There is evidence and I’ve gotten it first hand… from very reliable sources.. the problem is, people home are afraid to unite …the invented race construct occupies their thoughts and prevents them from coming together to end this .. people are afraid to speak out in fear of being killed but a united effort would prevent this.. keeping the nation divided will play into the hands of those who have ulterior motives ..namely the political elite which extends to the private sector

    • Well, I meant evidence that could be supported with tangible facts Gino. But I get where you are coming from. And I agree largely.

    • They can be supported with tangible facts, but the men who have it and their families will be killed if they leak it brother.. this is not a joking matter, and the police and govt will not protect them, it would mean leaving the country, now if we had police who were legit and a govt who would protect them, then it would be a different story

    • Okay while I agree in the description of current problems in the failure to tackle crime. It is strange that not one suggestion is made as to what is needed. Detective work? Intelligence gathering and a serious attack on those whose money is the very reason for the continual spate of crime. By attack I mean gloves off, to hell with the archaic justice system. Grab the financiers, seize their assets. Put them on a flight to the amazon jungle, cut out their eyes and throw out with a parachute and a kick in the rear.
      The reason I dont see the justice system as the vehicle is that the financiers know the greedy lawyers and judges and will drag the case till a partner gets into government and hands them a get out of jail free card (remember section 34?).
      They conspired to prevent the OPVs, got rid of the blimp and shut down SAUTT. You want to do it nice and civil? Waste of taxpayers money. Drag them out of bed, remove their eyes and drop them in the deepest jungles of the Orinoco with nothing but the pajamas they were sleeping in. That goes for every corrupt politician, lawyer, doctor, customs agent, licensing officer and policeman.
      Do that and crime will dip. Shut down all bars and alcohol sales after 10pm and bann alcohol in cars,. That will reduce drunk rages, rapes and accidents. Lastly when a community catches a rapist, take out their lecherous eyes. I personally guarantee there will be no more rapes once a dozen rapists are publicly known to have lost lose their eyes.

    • how you know that …where is your evidence ?

  20. There are sayings in the US courts… “Ignorance is no excuse” & “Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat” or ignorance of the law excuses no one.

  21. Vernal we know that full well. If they catch a five piece in a car, every man jack going to the station to get processed.
    One law for “us”, another for “them”.

  22. Lasana I often marvel at how cool we tend to be on hearing the news of the owners of shipping containers getting off the hook when drugs or money is discovered in those containers by simply claiming ignorance.
    We have gotten to a point where we have no grasp of the cobcept of accountability.
    In certain countries if drugs or even an opened alcohol bottle is discovered in a vehicle the driver is accountable whether he knows about it or not.

    • The argument would be a vehicle is for your personal use. But you did not personally pack the container. And during the shipping process, many ppl would have access to container. Seems as though there is a playbook to get away with these acts, knowing full well what all the loopholes are. But since it is U.S. dollars, that is, property of the U.S. gov’t, I believe there is (a separate?) investigation into the incident as they were trying to follow the money from the serial #s. These incidents-our complete inability to charge and prosecute anybody for anything, it seems, does not make us look good.

    • But Nerisha when it happens on their premise, they say it is the workers or the maid eh…

    • And the law allows them to get away with it, I recall. Like them or not, I like the way the U.S. appears to deal with everyone the same, at least when it comes to financial crimes-Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart. We get the message,-you do the crime, you do the time. Here, you can tie up the system for the rest of your life-provided there is even an attempt to charge and prosecute you. Yup, mixed messages then we wonder why our society is the way it is. We seem to make heroes out of alleged crooks through urban myths, it appears, as I cannot recall a single well connected person of influence convicted of crime locally.

    • There was one magistrate–Patrick Jaggassar, I think. But in his case, he turned Christian, had a pang of conscience and pleaded guilty.
      He does counselling and stuff now.
      In other words, you have to WANT to make the jail. And, ahmm, most don’t.

    • Patrick is a really nice fellah btw. Wonder what he is up to… I should track him down if possible.

    • Jagessar can practise law again
      Sunday, October 5 2003

      Former Senior Magistrate Patrick Jagessar who served three years in jail after being convicted of bribery in May 1988, has applied for and been granted a Practise Certificate by the Registrar and Marshal of the Supreme Court Evelyn Ann Petersen. The certificate was issued to Jagessar on Friday, September 26 and gives him the right to practise as an attorney in TT. The certificate states that “his name has never been removed from the Roll of Attorneys and that no order has ever been made directing him to be suspended from practising his profession. No charge is pending against him for professional misconduct. He has not been declared a bankrupt and is a person of good character and repute. However, a source told Sunday Newsday there may be objections to Jagessar setting up practice based on the rule that any attorney who has had a conviction is barred from practising and his name struck off the Roll. Jagessar is prepared to face any objection or challenge that may be raised. He put it this way: “I believe that Jesus Christ gave me back the certificate to practise law. He showed me mercy by forgiving my sins. Thank you Jesus for the mercy you have shown me.”

      Jagessar, who received a Presidential Pardon on May 10, 2002 from then President N A R Robinson said he applied for the Pardon and had to make a case to get it. This required recommendations from people in and out of the prison system who took into account the work he had done in the reformation of other prisoners and drug addicts. He said his case was carefully considered before he was pardoned by the President for the offence he committed in 1986. In 1987 he was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour by Justice Anthony Lucky for accepting a bribe of a Toyota Royal Saloon motor car as a reward for dismissing a criminal charge against a businessman Bhola Nandlal. Nandlal was also convicted and jailed for two years. While Jagessar was serving the two years, he was also tried by Justice Deyalsingh for conspiracy, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. His appeal against the Deyal-singh judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal which stated that the bribery and conspiracy charges were related and it amounted to Jagessar being tried twice for the same matter. He was immediately set free having served three years — one more than the original sentence by Justice Lucky. While in prison and since his release Jagessar immersed himself in religion, voluntary social work and assisting and counselling people in trouble. He has been very successful in this work. “My family life was shattered,” he said last week.

      “I brought shame and disgrace, humiliation on myself, my family, my profession, my country. I made a fundamental mistake.” Do not be like Patrick Jagessar, he warned others. “If you are going to be like Patrick Jagessar you are going to suffer. Learn from my experience. I am not a role model for anybody. Make time for God and church. If I had listened to my wife and gone to church I would not have succumbed to temptation.” Jagessar has not yet decided whether he will practise law again, but he wanted to have his certificate. Prior to the Legal Profession Act of 1987, once an individual was called to the Bar he/she could practise. But the 1987 law introduced the requirement of a certificate from the Supreme Court Registrar which costs between $500 for juniors to $2000 for seniors. Jagessar, father of five daughters, was called to the Bar in England on September 7, 1969 and was appointed to the TT Magistracy in 1970. He presided in different courts until he accepted a bribe in 1986 and was charged, found guilty and jailed.
      http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,10114.html

    • He volunteer for jail after converting to Christianity … the Blessed Virgin appear tuh he?

    • “In 1987 he was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour by Justice Anthony Lucky for accepting a bribe of a Toyota Royal Saloon motor car as a reward for dismissing a criminal charge against a businessman Bhola Nandlal. Nandlal was also convicted and jailed for two years. While Jagessar was serving the two years, he was also tried by Justice Deyalsingh for conspiracy, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. His appeal against the Deyal-singh judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal which stated that the bribery and conspiracy charges were related and it amounted to Jagessar being tried twice for the same matter. He was immediately set free having served three years — one more than the original sentence by Justice Lucky. While in prison and since his release Jagessar immersed himself in religion, voluntary social work and assisting and counselling people in trouble. He has been very successful in this work. “My family life was shattered,” he said last week.

      “I brought shame and disgrace, humiliation on myself, my family, my profession, my country. I made a fundamental mistake.” Do not be like Patrick Jagessar, he warned others. “If you are going to be like Patrick Jagessar you are going to suffer. Learn from my experience. I am not a role model for anybody. Make time for God and church. If I had listened to my wife and gone to church I would not have succumbed to temptation.”

    • I’m not sure if I got the order of his conversion to religion properly… He is the exception that proves the rule anyway.

    • Lasana Liburd…I disagree, I was referring to elites in society. He was a ‘small fry’ not Mr Big lol. And the fact that he was caught for a small bribe shows he may not be a seasoned ‘businessman’ lol.

    • Hahaha. You’re damn right Nerisha. He was no mister big in truth.

    • His daughter did a documentary recently on his conviction and the effect on her and their relationship. https://youtu.be/XwyrjGrsWvQ

  23. I almost wrote “seriously tackle crime” there. But that would be silly right? Like being a little pregnant. Either you’re tackling crime or not.
    To even consider writing “seriously” there shows I almost got caught up in the “jackassery” too! Lol.

    • But that seems to be our sweet spot as a nation. It seems as though we are contented to accept rhetoric, and PR rather than demand follow through. If we are honest with ourselves, no bill, no plan coming forward is any new idea. They have been in discussion forever it seems. But we are content to let ppl dangle hope in front of us, to make us believe they are doing something, while knowing very well whether deliberately or not that nothing will come to fruition during their term in office. In other words, you don’t have to actually work, just make it appear that you are. And the easy fallout-blame the other side that it did not become reality.

  24. That’s the question self Vernal and Kenneth. And when I see people wanted for white collar crime at the birthday parties or snuggling with high ranking members of both political parties… How am I to believe there is any political will to tackle crime?

  25. The war on crime, referred to as the war on drugs in the USA, was a grand systematic failure of policy. In T&T, TTPS war on crime/drugs did not seem to have the infrastructure, policies and processes, enforcement, and extensive legal and judicial support or backing as in the USA. If I am correct then crime in T&T had and still has no boundaries. We, T&T, need to embrace our criminologists and others with innovative ideas and proven skills & accomplishments in the field. Criminologist William R. Kelly, author of Criminal Justice and Renee Cummings, I believe, have the answers but our leaders must have the political will.

  26. This letter really did my heart good, it gives me hope that there is a growing number of Trinidadians who are on to our political class and are not fooled by either party’s ineffectiveness against crime and police brass’ refusal to acknowledge that the murder spree represents a crisis in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Law enforcement can be likened to the ubiquitous street lamp. Street lamps are above all things security measures (they weren’t installed to attract insects for the dining pleasure of lizards), if a street lamp goes out it is a simple matter of changing the buld, but if those charged with maintaining street lamps consistently fail to carry out the simple act of changing the bulb then it can only mean that they mean for the night to remain dark …. the obvious question then is why!

  27. “The nation remains anchored with the appalling level of corruption in the society that means from the very top there is a culture of no accountability and therefore no reprimand.”

  28. In 2011, during the last state of emergency, I addressed many questions on its ineffectiveness: https://guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2011/10/04/interview-criminologist

  29. In your opinion Renee, is it really a lack of political will? Is the “war on crime” just a sham?

  30. Kirk Langton and Lasana Liburd there’s little about crime in T&T that I’ve not said. So it is always a joy to see more citizens articulating a perspective.

  31. Very interesting. Are these from a lecture you did Renee?

  32. Criminologist and criminal psychologist Renée Cummings said the TTPS was badly under-performing when it comes to catching killers.

    Cummings, who also specialises in criminal profiling and behavioural evidence analysis, said the structural rigidity of the local police service had historically undermined change in the organisation, as well as “its ability to adapt quickly to the ever-changing dynamics of homicide and violent crime, and its ability to integrate critical thinking into police operations.”

    She added: “Real time problem-solving is a major challenge for law enforcement and citizens are paying for it with our lives. Each homicide contains an important message about the state of our society, the legitimacy of our institutions, the moral quality of our citizens and the psychopathology of offenders. Criminal justice policy must be designed to address all areas.”

    Cummings said that there was a deficit in knowledge among law enforcement personnel about the aetiology of homicide and possibilities of its prevention.

    “The knowledge gap contributes to the high homicide and violent crime rate and the inability of law enforcement to solve homicides at a faster rate,” she said.

    Creative thinking is needed for homicide reduction, Cummings said.

    “Unfortunately, imagination is missing in the fight against crime because there is an over-reliance on old ideas and recycled military strategies that offer nothing new.” http://m.guardian.co.tt/news/2017-01-22/experts-critical-local-policing

  33. According to criminologist and criminal psychologist Renée Cummings: “There’s no urgency when it comes to solving crime. What is done in the first 48-hours either increases or decreases the probability of an arrest.”

    No urgency

    Cummings added: “In the homicide investigation, there’s a continuum of competence in performing specific routine tasks that will influence the effectiveness of an investigation.

    “There seems to be some major challenges across the continuum specifically, in areas such as crime-scene response, crime-scene management, investigative techniques, case management, and follow-up.

    “To reduce homicides and increase the solvency rate, many things are required: a more victim-centred approach to investigations; a stronger professional ethic; well-trained investigators; a greater effort by police to build public trust and public confidence and reduce high level of reticence in the national community; a greater willingness to think outside of the box; and a more creative use of national security resources.”

    Cummings, who also specialises in criminal profiling, said traditional investigative techniques are no longer effective.

    “The crime scene represents the psychopathology of the offender. The police need additional analytic support.

    “Criminologists, criminal psychologists, forensic psychologists must be assigned directly to the homicide department to assist with behavioural analysis of offenders, crime-scene reconstruction, psychological autopsies, victimology and risk assessment reports, suspect prioritisation, interview strategies; time lines that determine the point at which the offender acquired the victim and so much more.”

    Cummings, who continues to advocate for an evidence-based approach to homicide reduction and empirically designed interventions, added that “there seems to be an analytic and systemic deficiency in understanding homicide and a lack of an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex dynamics of criminal behaviour, the criminal mind, and what may have spawned or cultivated an aberrant or criminal lifestyle”.

    She intimated: “That lack of knowledge continues to limit and undermine the responses being presented at a national level.”

    Cummings added: “There seems to be a lack of scientific management of the homicide department as well as a lack of direction, accountability and a method to assess performance.”

    She was particularly empathetic to homicide investigators.

    “The frequency of homicides and heavy case loads could be presenting a challenge.

    “Burnout, stress, frustration, lack of support, lack of motivation, lack of leadership and limited resources could impact their effectiveness and efficiency and contribute to keeping the detection rate abysmally low.” http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20170116/news/22-homicides-for-2017-no-one-charged

  34. “In early January, shortly before leaving this country former US Ambassador John Estrada said if he was in charge of the Police Service he would fire himself in the face of a spiralling crime problem.

    In response, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said he saw no reason to resign. He said he did not base his performance alone on murders.

    “I will be the first person to walk if I am dissatisfied with the effort that I am putting in and the results that I’m getting. If murder was the only crime which occurs in T&T I would have resigned,” Williams said then…

    Minister Dillon said he has articulated to National Security Agencies that government was prepared to strengthen five strategic pillars in the fight against crime.

    These are: “prediction-which is in fact intelligence gathering we feel there is a weakness, deterrent, detection, prosecution, and rehabilitation, those are also areas we can use to measure the agencies performance,” he said.

    Prediction, he said, allows the agencies acting on intelligence to say in advance what the criminal element intends to do “so we can take appropriate action.”

    In terms of deterrent, he said, this was where “we ensure that the law enforcement agencies, the police and Defence Force are managing resources in a way that gives citizens a sense of security and comfort.”

    On the issue of detection, Dillon said, this was “how can we as a government and I as minister assist with the resources required to improve detection and prosecution.”

    Dillon also said there was need to improve the court and judicial process. He said “we have people in remand yard 12-15 more years waiting on trial, we have to look at the Judiciary. If you commit a crime and you know next week you going to trial that is a deterrent,” he said.

    Dillon said he will continue to do his best to deal with crime.

    “I will do my best and let God do the rest,” he said.”
    http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2017-02-03/dillon-rules-out-soe