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How many more must die before we take back T&T?

“As citizens, we have been gun-whipped, shell-shock and shellacked into submission by these ‘monsters’, who roam night and day seeking out their next victim. They have shattered our once peaceful existence and turned us into persons who are distrustful, skeptical and paranoid.”

The following Letter to the Editor on Trinidad and Tobago’s startling murder rate was submitted to Wired868 by Mr Salaah Inniss of Santa Rosa Heights:

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

How many more must die? [And I am referring to] our citizens, who are innocently murdered, rape and kidnapped by ruthless and wicked fiends, every day, month and year.

The overwhelming tally is staggering and even as the year draws to a close we have had over 430 murders!

As I write a twenty year old young woman was brutally murdered; her body found in a retail outlet in the capital city. Many more persons are voicing their opinions and making statements condemning this incident and rightly so.

Our country is angry; people are disconsolate and jaded and are asking: When will this all end?

What immoral and malevolence has befallen our once beautiful country?

Of course we have had senseless killings before—we weren’t a utopia devoid of this bloodshed. But how did we arrive at this point where statistically there is a murder-a-day? Who should take responsibility for the carnage we are seeing every day?

Is it that our police service is incompetent to handle these crimes? Is it that the judicial system is inefficient? Or is it lack of legislation and political will?

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. (Copyright 103FM)
Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright 103FM)

What about the media? Is the media partly responsible because of ineffective investigative journalistic skills? What about the ‘third sector’—Civil Society?

Should these groups and activists increase robustly public debate on issues surrounding our judicial system—or the long delay and implementation of a commissioner of police or of government’s yearly budgets allocation for national security where there is, by any stretch of the imagination, no tangible return on investment?

Some may argue—and with empirical findings—that it takes too long for prosecution and conviction and may suggest that it is the way our court system is designed. (Hopefully not deliberately so).

But we all know that an effective judiciary guarantees fairness in legal processes and that it’s a powerful weapon against exploitation or even corrupt practices.

Yet people’s experiences in our court system are often far from fair. Court efficacy is crucial. We have heard about backlogs of cases and the potential or even the opportunity to create demands for bribes to fast-track a case or even adjournment. There are even some countries where Court personnel can be paid to slow down or speed up a trial or dismiss a complaint.

Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.
Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.

As an independent nation, it is critical for us to change the paradigm, to adopt a model that is suitable for our needs. It is time for referendums to change the way we are running our country.

After fifty years we need to get back to the drawing board, we have to take stock and be fair to ourselves that our systems are in need of a major overhaul. The sanctity of life, morals and values are being eroded layer by layer, which will—if left unchecked—have catastrophic consequences.

As citizens, we have been gun-whipped, shell-shock and shellacked into submission by these ‘monsters’, who roam night and day seeking out their next victim.

They have shattered our once peaceful existence and turned us into persons who are distrustful, skeptical and paranoid. We are caged in our own homes nervous and suspicious of every car that drive by; we look over our shoulders impulsively at the sound of any din or movement.

I often wonder how persons entrusted to look after the safety of all the citizens of this country feel when they are confronted by the news of these dastardly acts of killings. Like Ms Banfield and the other four-hundred plus citizens who have lost their lives; because, as 2017 draw closer, how many more will die?

Photo: A Baltimore resident takes part in a candlelight vigil for Freddie Gray, who was killed by the police. (Copyright Guardian UK)
Photo: A Baltimore resident takes part in a candlelight vigil for Freddie Gray, who was killed by the police.
(Copyright Guardian UK)

About Salaah Inniss

Salaah Inniss
Salaah Inniss is an ardent writer with an enthusiasm for bringing insightful views on national issues. He graduated from Cipriani College in Environmental Management, and is presently working in the Integrated Facilities Building Service Industry. He is an empathetic supporter of conservation and the protection of the environment.

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78 comments

  1. R.I.P hun Gods Angels ? will be watching over you in Heaven.

  2. They need a new Police Commission Board so justice can prevail. Apparently these police officers are perpetually aiding to these murders by not using proper policing tactics.

  3. Because both have a BIG part in the murdering of citizens I’m surprised ppl not seeing this

  4. Walkout of parliament what a show’ how come the opposition never ever come together with the elected government and the people’ in the fight against crime.

  5. The evil seed was planted in the building blocks of this nation & now the trees are bringing forth its fruits, the colonial masters planted the seed & watered it with blood for us to be reaping the fruit we must have subscribed to the sed actions instead of denouncing it you watching what you seeing.

  6. We march , hold vigils , write columns , print jerseys….. etc . Then vote for the same people for the last 50 yrs. + . Please explain !

  7. Asami Nagakiya- the Japanese pannist strangled this Carnival: vigil, protest, mayor’s resignation, huge public outcry. Not a word.

  8. Keep up the good work killers we will deal with you all

  9. They can’t want we Money N want we Dead Toooooooooooooo

  10. Take a look at yourself and make that change.

  11. Again I ask…. take back our country from whom?

  12. My Sincere Condolences to her family and friends..!!
    Trinidad ?? and Tobago ?? it’s time to reinstate the flying Squad.

    • The flying squad, thought rouge back in the days, may have lived up to a mantra on integrity but forming such an elite group from the pool in the protective service may just create possible high power criminals. We need to clean up the protective service from top to bottom. If we cannot solve seetahal’s death then there is no way we are solving miss banfield’s death.

    • Going backwards to go forward?

  13. we have been a failed state for a while, we just FAILED to see it. Will it get better, I don’t know but after hearing Trinis are shopping still at branches of the organization linked to the young woman’s death have my head spinning. I cannot believe we have descented so low into the abyss of hell. Once we got our fete tickets, our rum, and take a wine somewhere then we are all set to go and this beautiful girl will soon disappear from our five day memory.

  14. Well said. IMO if the TTPS would police itself to get rid of the garbage in its ranks, crime might come down. How on earth do so many murders and crimes go unsolved in such a small country? It’s disgraceful. The justice system needs to be overhauled too. I suppose the government has to be blamed as well, but it’s not the current government’s fault these horrific crimes occur – its been happening for decades most likely. If all politicians actually cared about the citizens instead of their egos things might get better but I’m not holding my breath. Thing is, Trinidad is in a mess and it may take years or decades to get it back to the paradise I always hear about.

  15. Race, religion, wealth, employment, housing and detriments and benefits from the colonial design all need to be looked at. Survival has become crime for some. Many young Trinidadians have no other way of earning a living than pushing the next Trinidadian to his death. That he takes pride in the push is what makes him the irretrievable criminal for an efficient criminal justice system. The priest and the lawyer are irrelevant contradictions in Trinidad today and that is the true failure of Trinidad society.

  16. I will give my two cents tom when i return from work .

  17. Jimi Jorsling…remember we have scanners on the port? Can the Minister say now if they working (he did not know before). If it is not, why not? Can they say whether the scanners at the airport (iris and fingerprint machine if I recall correctly) that Gary Griffith said were brought, are they functional (we both know differently). If not, why not? Who is the real criminal-the small man fighting to survive or the big man entrusted to deal with the issue who has been given free pass to not even give false assurances as they have all absconded from their duty to the nation? It seems crime is beneath the noses of those in parliament so they leave it to the grassroots ppl to deal with. Smh.

    • They probably unplug it conveniently .

    • Lol. Port and airport-don’t even know if they can find them! We don’t demand accountability. Else Parliament would have a forum for questions from the public. Not sure if we have independent senators. Or what their role is. But they seem a little too independent for the most part-almost independent of the process! I know ppl would disagree but at least Dhanyshwar Maharaj and Mr Balgobin, Helen Drayton were quite vocal. I learned from listening to them.

  18. With so many missing people, is there a reason why we can’t invest in sniffer dogs? All the drugs coming into and out of the country. All the money in suitcases. Dogs are harder to bribe than ppl..more likely they are more efficient too. If we serious about crime…but wait, we are not.

  19. I will give part . Is the judiciary doing anything to disuade anybody from committing crimes ?

  20. This coming week and the next will be very trying for law abiding citizens . Be very alert while going aboyt your business . i wanted to say something that some may find very controversial as a solution to the crime problem but i will hold for now .

  21. Things are beginning to work again in the Phillipines. Fron Senator come right down to Councillor and SRP getting caught, with some handing themselves in, they prefer to be alive and punished than stiff and cold

  22. Why aren’t the women’s group protesting one of our own national?

  23. Trinidad has become a lawless country no one has respect for the law of the land,we are the government we suppose to be our brothers keeper but we are devouring one another if not for self gain,is the hate we have for each other practice love and everyone will see change.

    • I think we need to change the mindset that we are a lawless country by each individual making a resolution to do what is right. Obeying the laws of the land, having a love for our fellow man, God’s creatures and the environment are a start in the right direction. Small steps begin a journey.

  24. His actions may prove to be effective in the short term but one wonders what happens later?!

  25. Take it back from whom? Trinidadians?

    • Take it back…BY whom? If there were sufficient law abiding, concerned citizens, trust me, no one in the parliament or police service can pay lip service or pseudo empathy when the blame largely lies at their feet. We are sliding towards 500 murders for the year at the rate we are going-even the media can’t keep accurate count. So…again, who is to do this taking back?

  26. Sad days for our country. It’s just filled with hatred and blood shed.

  27. What does it really say about a country and it’s leaders who can’t ensure some level of security to its law abiding citizens . Incompetence? Lack of will ? Don’t care ? Or is it that whatever happens they still get paid ?

    • whatever happens they still get paid ..
      so why work when you get paid anyhow

    • To be fair, it would have been impossible for the TTPS to have prevented her murder. The inhouse security however should at least been aware that a customer who went upstairs did not come down again.

    • Agreed Judy-ann.
      so many questions so little answers

    • The issue here is not prevention of a homicide. It is DETECTION.
      The prevention issue is a societal issue that has to do with education, upbringing, values and a whole lot more in terms of what potentially shapes an individual’s mindset with a propensity to commit these sort of crimes. How does society detect such mindset and what actions or remedies can be applied to mitigate ugly antisocial outcomes.
      One in four persons in TT are estimated to be suffering from mental health issues, according to Ministry of Health stats. What’s policies and programmes are being implemented to identify, treat and track individuals who are so affected.
      Is there a public education drive at all?

    • Judy-ann Stewart…yup..nobody is saying her death could have been prevented. But as long as the memo is circulated that crime pays and there is no repercussion, there will be no ease on the citizens. Our detection rates are woefully low. Our forensic labs, pathologists, homicide officers are all overworked. And the gov’t is not responsible for arresting criminals (the favourite gripe of supporters) but I am sure you agree they are falling down on holding ppl accountable! With THREE Ministers! What have they done? What additional resources has been given? Are the cameras which were supposed to have been installed functional? Computerised database of fingerprints to compare instead of wasting man hours on this? Why not get iris scans and fingerprints when ppl go for IDs-even if it is optional? Are our police officers engaged in community policing? Do they encourage neighbourhood watch? Ultimately, the end result lies with us the ppl. But there are bodies to advise and guide ppl and to enforce laws. And in 2016, the police service still advertising for 3 cxc and under 35 if I recall. How’s that working out? Contract out some jobs for ppl who can get the job done pls.

    • Nerisha Mohammed, you are preaching to the choir.

    • I know! You and many members here have repeated info over the years. Nobody is listening!

    • Judy-ann Stewart Upstairs is warehouse, regular customers are not permitted unless escorted I would assume. Based on physical layout of place, she or her body would have passed behind cashiers…. Yet no one saw… Cameras are all located and positioned in these spots, yet nothing…. I agree, police could not have prevented murder, but, can they or will they solve the murder?

    • We just aren’t as smart as we think

    • Siewdath Persad. Well said. You hit the nail on the head.

    • Nerisha Mohammed . You are too generous. The primary requirement has always been physical brawn rather than functioning brain cells. Now the TTPS has become another ‘make work’ social institution to provide jobs. Getting a police ‘wuk’ is similar to getting a box drain contract for your own street.

    • Doncito Braffito Front of the class . Here’s the answer . If your child is lazy no ass at home and you pull strings and get a wuk in the protective service for them , you think they will automatically start to work ?

  28. If arms, ammunition or drugs are found on a property, every manjack, associated with the property will be charged.
    In this case a missing woman’s body was found inside a secured area of a business establishment, three days after she went missing.
    The owner of the business establish refused to co-operate with the investigation and provide the police access to requested cctv footages from his establishment.
    It’s not certain whether police was also denied permission to search the premises or whether they made any attempt to do so in the first place.
    The police, however, clearly neglected or failed to seek a warrant to search the premises and to seize cctv tapes from an unco-operative witness.
    Was that observing protocols in an investigation?
    Oh TTPS give us a damn break!
    Had the body not been discovered three days later by a security guard on duty and reported to the police, the duncy investigating officers would have been blissfully clueless.
    The owner of IAM ought to be hauled before the public courts to account for Shannon’s dead body turning up on his premises as well as his refusal to co-operate.
    Apart from being cited as a witness, there must be charges on the books relating conspiracy to conceal a dead body and/or accessory to a crime(s) (murder/assault/kidnap).
    Even if Shannon voluntarily went or was lured to IAM, and during her visit she was detained against her will and was assaulted and murdered, multiple crimes would have been committed inside the business premises. Unless, of course, she was murdered elsewhere and her body smuggled to the business place undetected, which is an unlikely scenario, considering the information in the public domain from since the young woman was reported missing on Monday to when her body was discovered.
    This particular case and the media release from the TTPS, though, bear testimony to glaring gaps in the established protocols employed the in rudimentary investigations.
    No wonder the TTPS detection rate is a woefully abysmal less than 10 percent.
    So incompetence and/or lack of adequate training and/or employment of established investigative protocols and tools are a major problem plaguing a blissfully ignorant collective comprising the TTPS.
    And what of willful actions by conspiring and corrupt investigating detectives and/or their superiors who may, for cash or kind, leave no stones unturned in steering an investigation into a dead end?!
    Yet billions of dollars are being pumped annually into the TTPS, who might be classified as primarily highly paid glorified security guards.
    It is about high time consideration be given to establishment of an entirely new detatched crime investigations bureau that is independent of and unburdened by the incompetent, inefficient and ineffective TTPS and its excuse-laden buracracy.
    Indeed, this may require a constitutional majority for the necessary legislative passage.
    It will therefore require consideration of MPs on both sides in Parliament.
    This is a proposed solution to move crime detection under present TTPS structure and protocols from less than ten to closer to 100 percent.
    It is about high time some damn meaningful measures are taken to fix this major problem!

    • The TTPS was historically set up to suppress the restive tendencies of the population and the successive governments and police administration have stuck to this mission by focusing primarily on the selection of officers with certain physical traits. If you were flat footed but with brilliant reasoning abilities you were turned down. Physical brawn was the preferred physical quality required. That body became another DEWD, URP or CEPEP to give jobs to political supporters from 1956 onwards. The PP government put the nail in the coffin with the Reshmi affair and the dismantling of the investigative network of the protective services. Getting into the TTPS is not unlike getting a contract to make box drains. No functioning brain cells required!