Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Salaam: The govt must “unleash” the Defence Force to curb crime

Salaam: The govt must “unleash” the Defence Force to curb crime

The more I want to be optimistic about my Trinidad and Tobago’s current situation and our chances and ability to climb out of the decadent cesspool we currently find ourselves, the more I’m convince that my positive outlook is overshadowed by the reality of our state of affairs.

Many—including the Opposition, Labour Unions and other civic groups—are calling our country a failed state and government received a failed mark on its performance at the recent Labour Day Rally.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the audience in his “Conversations with the Prime Minister” series.
(Copyright Office of the Prime Minister)

Hundreds of families have already been directly and indirectly affected by crime and other social issues and may agree that the malaise redounds to the present government’s inability to steady the ‘ship of state’—which, by all indications, is in perilous condition.

According to Robert I Rotberg in his book “When States Fail”: nation-states fail because they are convulsed by internal violence and can no longer deliver positive political goods to their inhabitants.

This assertion is clearly applicable to our current dilemma. Trinbago is under daily siege by ruthless thugs, with little or no protection from the National Security “architecture”—to quote Minister Edmund Dillon.

The state’s prime function is to provide that security and it is becoming clear that the government can no longer safeguard its law abiding citizens.

A failed state cannot put in place the conditions for its own existence. And while Trinidad and Tobago still has elements of a functional society—such as empowering citizens to partake freely, openly, and fully in politics and the political process, free education from primary to tertiary, healthcare, public utilities and infrastructure—the loss of our citizen’s peace of mind due to the upsurge of violence overshadows any meaningful achievements.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soldiers on the move during joint patrols with the police.
(Copyright Baltimore Examiner)

No society grows above the level of its leadership, just as no nation grows above the level of its education.

This present government, for me, had one main mandate when they were elected in 2015: to stem the flow of violence and eradicate the criminal elements. They have thus far disappointed and failed to make any progress in reducing in the mayhem that we witness every day; and, as a result, some are resorting to mob violence and vigilante justice.

Many citizens have called for joint army patrols to bring a measure of relief, especially in the hot-spot communities, but somehow the powers that be are not inclined to unleash the Defence Force in these areas. There always seems to be some legislative or jurisprudence to block the progress or a lack of political will to give the Defence Force a more active role in stemming the flow of criminal activities.

If we are a sovereign country, then why is it so difficult to put policies in place which would bring law and order?

I believe the Defence Force is the only option to suppress the criminal elements and bring a sense of safety to our society, as it is possibly the only institution with any integrity left.

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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  1. The Defence Force is not for the streets amongst the citizenry. The forests where those poor victims of colonialism are practising their weaponry is the place for them.

  2. All I know is something have to be done, we can’t continue like this

  3. Am in full agreement with the writer, that there is a lack of action by the present government where crime is concern am yet to see any solid plan put in place to help the citizens of T&T….

  4. There is no way that can happen the army is to guard and defend. They dont have powers of arrest

  5. Asking the army to do policing because they are good at soldiering is like asking your straightener to fix your engine in my opinion. Or your painter to install your wiring.
    Surely the only solution is to straighten out your police service. Difficult job but half measures don’t work.

  6. ..I wonder what the people living in communities under daily seige by the criminal element think. Would they agree to the unleashing of the dogs of war? From my vantage point, that!element has long declared war on society; the police have proven for all kinds of reasons, good and bad, to be incapable of handling the criminal offensive; the politicians even more so; so give the military the green light. And yess – we know that by itself is no ultimate solution but society needs immediate wins and breatbing space while we work on longer term strategy..

    • But we know the problem is the police’s inability to take control. I feel putting the army in there doesn’t solve the policing problem and arguably creates situation where our soldiers can also be corrupted.
      Not to mention that soldiers aren’t trained to do law enforcement work.
      The other point is who decides whether the targets are or are not criminals?
      I feel like there is a procedure we must go through before we turn the State against the individual and our focus must be on making sure that procedure works.

    • So who do you put, if not the army, Las?

    • How I see it is the very soul of the nation is in some corruption. Look at the top of the Army was prepared to jeopardise a brother’s name for the sake of a politician (Cumutogate). The Officers are looking after themselves and not their subordinates, so they may very well revolt against the establishment

    • Savitri we know the problem. It’s the Police. We have to do the hard business and deal with that—and we can start by investigating why the police service is failing.
      Nothing else will work to me because you’re using something inappropriately to compensate for something else that isn’t doing it’s job.

    • So how do we reform the TTPS, when people are advocating to give the politician more control?

    • ..Failed State. Do like some people advocate then. Pray. But I rather do something else..

    • I wouldn’t say prayer is the solution at all. Put a task force together with people from Govt, Opposition and civil society and come up with a new formula and dismantle the whole thing.
      Like BWIA to CAL or Sports company to sports commission.
      Let the unions take the Govt to court and deal with that over the next decade or so.
      Better a big legal bill and improved security than the other way around.

      • The political powers in Kiev Ukraine fired all 5000 policemen from the ‘old’ corrupted force and recruited 5000 fresh, young and uncorrupted officers. Their pleasant manners and proactive policing got kudos from the citizens.

        The major problem in besetting TnT police force is corruption. The problem is we don’t really know who is corrupt. The police and politicians agree that it is a minority. I say not so. The appearance is that corruption is so entrenched, even the police can’t recognise it.

        The only viable long-term solution is to remove them all, start afresh with young, higher qualified (degree level at least) policemen and women, and make adjustments accordingly.

  7. Do we really need an army? After ANR said, ” Attack with full force!” and no one complied, the next step should have been to disband.

    Our military should focus on rescue and emergency situations. There is no war these guys would either win or willingly fight in.

  8. I actually don’t agree that the Defence Force should get in the business of crime fighting in T&T. And I do not agree that the Defence Force should be “unleashed” on anyone, including hot spot communities.
    All I can say is that I understand the hurt and frustration that comes with the suggestion. Even as I respectfully disagree with the sentiment.