“When police are militarised, they are more likely to be attacked (Carriere, 2016). The militarisation of police does not reduce crime. Elite teams neither reduce crime nor enhance public safety and become used routinely in low-income communities.
“There is no evidence that this practice enhances officer safety nor lowers crime (Mummolo, 2018).”
The following Letter to the Editor on the perceived change of tone within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) under new Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, was submitted to Wired868 by Noble Phillip of Blue Range:
Two years from today we will still be able to buy our favourite brand of fried chicken. Authoritarian states allow this.
Wendell Phillips’ words, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few… the hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people” are salutary. We are witnessing intimidation on a national scale to control us all—from The UWI students to the media—not just the criminals.
Our high crime rate and the criminal justice system’s inability to control crime have created legitimacy crises for our governments. Our police were rated among the best in the colonial Commonwealth, but our politicians subverted this by their corruption and nepotism.
Former Police Commissioner Eustace Bernard identified the power of the Welfare Association in getting the 1972 Cabinet approval for a change in working hours without his knowledge or proper preparation as the start of the breakdown.
Politics have informed the appointment and (dis)appointment of all Commissioners. Our current Government has concluded that the new Commissioner will generate a measurable and positive impact in the reduction of the ‘fear’ of crime. Appearances therefore matter.
The gentleman and the Welfare Association advocate for a militarised police service. Anthropologist Peter Kraska says “militarization is the embrace and implementation of an ideology that stresses the use of force as a good way to solve problems.”
The language changes, more weapons purchased, and more willingness to swat all in sight. Every problem will look as a nail to be hammered. Swagger and intrusion in everyday life mark the return of the Police Force.
Criminal monsters are real. The issue is the way we intend to train the officers to use the advanced weapons. Will they be used for fair and equal justice or for power and control?
The early signs—The UWI students to the media intimidation—point to the latter. The two incidents, which evoked apologies for ham-fisted action, happen to be covered by the media. Are they ‘dry runs’ to test our tolerance limits?
When police are militarised, they are more likely to be attacked (Carriere, 2016). The militarisation of police does not reduce crime. Elite teams neither reduce crime nor enhance public safety and become used routinely in low-income communities.
There is no evidence that this practice enhances officer safety nor lowers crime (Mummolo, 2018).
The words of the Ministry of National Security (October 2015) about the aborted APC purchase—“… unknown to the PS and the Procurement and Legal Units… a former Minister of National Security unilaterally gave assurance… to the director of the Israeli company… four months prior to the Evaluation Committee’s visit to Israel… highly irregular and did not adhere to the Central Tenders Act…”—tell of a willingness to bend rules.
Dana Seetahal said, “we know even the execution of ten murderers in 1999 did not have any impact on the crime rate… stories of police raids in the dead of night, oppression and death in custody do not make for confidence in the police.”
Will we listen?