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Do your job! TTPS must follow the money to tackle crime

The recent rally entitled Side by Side We Stand was focused on the appalling annual murder rate, with particular reference to the murders of women and children. The stimulus for the rally was the murder of Shannon Banfield found dead in a Charlotte Street store.

The appearance at the rally of the Minister of National Security Mr Edmund Dillon, a retired Army officer, grabbed the headlines because his remarks displeased the crowd and were met with chants of “Do Your Job.”

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

For more than a decade, in this column, I have set out the matters fuelling violent crime and the job to be done. The authorities have routinely left us vulnerable to being random victims, or burdened with grief from the killing of others, and too scared to go out at night or to stay out beyond self-imposed curfews.

Pathetic policing is a major part of the problem. The perceived deterrent effect of the law, namely getting caught, has been almost completely eroded. Nevertheless, the authorities consistently seek to dilute dissatisfaction about this deficiency.

Dillon has reportedly embraced the mantra of the Acting Commissioner of Police that the police can only deal effectively with crime if we help them by intervening in the dysfunctional aspects of our society, in which, in the words of the current Prime Minister, “we are breeding monsters.”

The way it has most recently been put is that law enforcement is at the end of a spectrum at the beginning of which were the things that shape the minds and influence the behaviour of young citizens and lead them into “criminality.”

That may well be so as a general proposition, but it evades several important crucial realities, such as the erosion of the deterrent effect of the law. Regardless of the shortcomings of parents and others, the detection rate is pathetic and we, the citizens cannot do the work of the police or the thoroughly discredited criminal justice system.

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)

Secondly, there is no doubt that prevailing socio-economic living conditions, un-remediated even in times of economic boom, have rendered our society angry and brutal and more inclined to anti-social and criminal ways of life.

However, the responsibility for the lack of any coherent and enlightened social development strategy and the lack of objective justice is entirely the fault of successive Governments, who govern mainly by reference to a distribution of spoils from the national cash register, principally through the juicy state enterprise sector.

Regarding the lack of objective justice and pervasive race and class inequalities, a stunning example arose out of the continuing outcry about the abuse of fireworks, which peaked as it usually does during Christmas time.

When the weaknesses of governance and infrastructure are exposed in dramatic circumstances, like the Shannon murder or the blowing off of a limb from a scratch bomb, there are knee jerk reactions and out comes our old friend “zero tolerance.”

This is a concept applied selectively. When a downtown vendor was hauled off by the police for allegedly offering for sale illegal explosive devices in the full view of television cameras, I would like to have seen a few residents in well to do areas hauled off in similar fashion for setting off fireworks in towns or within sixty feet of streets outside of the defined towns.

Photo: A cartoon on the dangers of fireworks.
Photo: A cartoon on the dangers of fireworks.

Now to be fair to any Minister of National Security, he cannot do the police work either, so what is the job he must do? Or, put another way, what is the job the the Ministry has been failing to do?

The first is the failure to consult on and bring before Parliament new constitutional arrangements for the management and operation of the Police Service. These new arrangements must not only have effective policing as their objective. They must target corruption.

As indicated in last week’s column, the existence of the rogue element in the police service is well documented since 1991.

A useful source of information is the work of Guyana-born internationally recognised scholar and consultant, Professor Ivelaw Griffith. He and many others have delineated the overwhelming danger of the drug trade, its infinite capacity to corrupt and the attendant political consequences.

In a 1997 article in the Penn State International Law Review, Professor Griffith deals with the police protection given to drug dealers. He quotes from the findings of Scotland Yard on the self perpetuating rogue elements in our police service, which “use rank to frustrate honest police action and to grant concessions.”

Photo: A police officer helps his colleague with his stripes.
Photo: A police officer helps his colleague with his stripes.

The National Security Ministry along with the office of the Attorney General must establish a policy, codes of conduct and legislation effective to deal with this rogue element concomitantly with campaign finance sources, resistance to lavish hospitality and freeness and the role of “the big fish” in all of this.

Do the job. Apply zero tolerance to all of the above. Anything less, including cosmetic retirements, you spinning top in mud.

AboutMartin 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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22 comments

  1. The Opposition will oppose,any and all legislation brought to Parliament by the government.

  2. What do you expect to get from a person who is not acquainted with law or policing? Brig. Dillon is way out of his depth, similar to ‘mighty mouth Griffith’ and the other National Sec Ministers from the TTDF.

    Why aren’t former Police Officers made Nat Sec Ministers? What is the fear or conspiracy? After 18 months, not one piece of legislation from the Ministry of Nat Sec. There are so many things to be implemented at the policy level, but poor soul Dillon is none the wiser, perhaps we can call a parade, and then will be be in his element.

    Mind you, the UNC did the same thing and failed.

  3. They follow the money all right!

  4. ALL politicians are liars and thieves.

  5. imagine there are three ministers of Nat SECURITY

  6. tell me which soldier could be a M o Nat sec if nthey cant clean up the police force then we can all end up one day in a drive by shooting is the financiers that are being protected not the citizens

  7. All they do is talk, talk, talk and nothing changing.

  8. Don’t expect much from Sgt Shultz

  9. Agreed about campaign finance reform. But to the best of my knowledge, there ought to already be codes of conduct for the police service. I think we need to strengthen our tax and finance laws so that we can follow the money-hinder corruption in the civil service police, prisons, customs. The challenge for police and prisons, however, is the possible threats to their family; it may not be simple as money. And we need to get serious about holding people accountable for the misuse and abuse of state funds. We need to demand value for money. What is the status on procurement bill? Enforce the laws we have now! How many small business owners have multiple homes/cars/expensive vacations and are not vat registered?

  10. Dis minister is a waste of time go beyond yur political arena and appoint someone if u dont have d competent resources available

  11. wat about d money in d plywood they follow that ? what about d helicopter pilot from diego with the coke in she house they follow that ?

  12. Follow the money, they may end up exactly where they started. Martin didn’t deal exhaustively with the constant protection of the Mr Big’s by our various administrations though he alluded to it. Again, I suggest that as long as Mr Big and the pappys in Westmoorings and environs can run free and flaunt the laws Willy nilly, there will be lawlessness, simply because to allow them to run free, by definition you have to relax some other levers. Oh hell, I going to a fete yes, nobody eh care about that so what I worried about? Ah gone, in the USA now but going to drink a few and transfer my mind to soca in moka

  13. Genius is about breaking down complex issues into such simple terms that the layman can understand.
    The irony is that the layman often doesn’t respect something that seems too simple.
    Follow the money! Yet, the FIU has never given us a single conviction. So what does that say? Eh Renee, Keron, Vernal and Keston?
    It means our war on crime has not even begun if you asked me…

  14. CRIME!!! A major factor that increases traffic, real estate, cost of living and corruption! Deal with crime and the standard of living would greatly improve.

  15. $Bs spent on country’s security yet no improvements .. all sorts of technological equipment purchased and still nothing worthwhile .. $M vessels at Coast Guard base just moored idly yet Minister says borders will be patrolled ..