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Daly Bread: Runaway violent crime is the predictable outcome of political indifference

Anyone with a copy of The Daly Commentaries or a good memory will know that these columns have repeatedly condemned the dreadful expression “collateral damage”.

On Monday last, that phrase was disparaged in an editorial in this newspaper entitled “Crossing the 200-murder mark.”

Unfortunately, it is “more than a few years ago” that former Prime Minister Patrick Manning shrugged off the fatal killing of a young woman outside Movie Towne, describing her death as collateral damage. It is actually 15 years ago, in 2003, that we were first encouraged by Manning to shrug off murder.

Photo: Late former prime minister Patrick Manning.
(Copyright CNC3)

I used to write a lot about the subject but I have slacked off because so few, other than relatives of the murder victims, seem to care except when the murder victim is regarded as well placed in our society.

Several columns have been retrospectives for those for whom the bell has tolled. These columns have also attacked the fact that shootings are done with absolute impunity in broad daylight.

Last week, a bank worker was shot outside the front door of his place of work at eight in the morning in San Fernando. Happily, he has survived so far and we all wish him well. Christopher Mohammed, the young Uber driver, was not so lucky.

The editorial to which I refer, made reference to “the most stunning fact—the Government’s apparent dis-interest in tackling the problem of crime.” That is a dis-interest (sic) shared by all of our governments since the rash of murders began in the mid-90’s.

The current Opposition’s main strategy against crime when last in office was an ill-considered state of emergency, in which big fish were left conspicuously alone. Subsequently, many other persons have been collecting damages for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment at significant cost to the country, as we were reminded on Wednesday by yet another High Court award of damages.

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

There was one major omission in the editorial review of our current murder situation. To redress the omission, it is necessary only to repeat a few sentences from previous columns: “There is a cultural factor that militates against turning the society around. It is the silence and passivity of the validating elites in the face of outrageous events.

“There is random mortality for all and the authorities and their sycophants sleep well, wave their rags, shovel up the freeness and put on grovelling shows of respect that last as long as they can get some advantage for their business or themselves.”

The above diagnoses date back to 2003. Ironically, the bank worker was shot at a corner known as High Street and Penitence Street. There is no need for shooters to hide away from the High Streets or in the dark. They will not be apprehended and they know that the majority of those who can make a difference do not care about ordinary victims.

Last Monday’s editorial concluded that what we have today is “a Police Service increasingly unable to protect and serve all T&T.” This is the predictable outcome of the indifference of fifteen years.

By an odd coincidence, I thanked the then commanding officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, Colonel Edmund Dillon, in July 2004, when he secured the return of a Galil assault rifle, apparently stolen from Camp Ogden for a nefarious purpose.

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

Dillon is no longer an operative in the field.  He is now our Minister of National Security and toes Government’s line that the prevention of crime and the arrest of offenders are matters for the Police in which, constitutionally, the government cannot interfere. However, he did concede, in a recent television interview, that the responsibility of his ministry for crime was “policy” and “strategy.”

It is plain for all to see that current mechanisms for disciplinary control over policemen are lacking, as is the capacity to “enforce standards of conduct on such officers.” Existing constitutional and statutory provisions to take care of these vital matters have failed.

What new policy or strategy does the government or Opposition intend to devise to redress this?

That is certainly an unanswered policy question. It will probably be ducked for another 15 disastrous years.

Photo: The body of a murder victim.

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 and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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5 comments

  1. It’s so sad to read the true realty of an Administration and Public Services paid with tax payers dues to protect and serve, see this description as non job descriptive. Also, electoral who feel “policies” and “strategy” without constant enforcement is all a days job. The Constitution and the chain of command is still intact, it just needs to be effectively in force without favoritism, and those suspected of crime against country and citizens, be tried convicted and sentence in a court of law. The truth of it all is beside the greed for money and personnel self gain, its a bunch of 40-60 years old in the house of parliament playing games with each other emotions, making undependable promises to citizens with no real vision for the country.
    There are so much to be done but no one wants to be fully responsible? Positions are being help by acting candidates, yet they receive full wages. The influx of immigrants and the crime situation need to be address and no ministry seem to care. The rate and time polices take to solve a crime is unbelievable. Its time for all to be responsible and work together for the betterment of the country.

  2. Have and have nots happen gap widens. No social safety net.Sat millionaires doh want to pay no tax.”we jealous Indian property”.like other races doh have property. Mekeila Selby and Humphrey?.

  3. Change is hard because people ‘fear’ change. Human nature tends to the familiar and comfortable.

    Apathy is a norm, enhanced by fear of repercussions from the criminal elements. And don’t forget the cultural influences, where every day is a ‘lime’ and hard work is a foreign concept to the masses.

  4. He’s asking for a plaster on a sore. Until we address our monstrous problems of stratification and inequality this will continue. No matter how many police or other failed “security theatre” proposals we throw at it.