Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Dear Editor: Westmoorings barrier betrays spiralling security concerns across socio-economic strata

Dear Editor: Westmoorings barrier betrays spiralling security concerns across socio-economic strata

A video of a young man removing a barrier strategically placed across the road in a community somewhere in west Trinidad raised some serious concerns.

Initially he was thought to be villain. It turns out that the barriers were illegally placed across the roadways. It also became apparent that the barriers were placed there by residents designed to insulate them from ‘other elements’ traversing through ‘their’ community.

Photo: An electronic security gate.

As far as residents there are/were concerned, they lived in a gated community; the illegal barriers being their ‘gate’. It should be understood that these weren’t some fly-by-night barriers; they were operated by remote controls, which residents had to purchase.

It turns out that the regional corporation with responsibility for the area denied granting authority to anyone in the area to erect said barriers. In other words, the barriers were, for all intent and purposes, illegal. But these barriers were erected with a simple, common purpose: to assist residents in their efforts to keep their families and loved ones safe.

Many are of the view that it has to do with the social ‘class’ to which the residents belong; this view is probably accurate. But despite one’s social class one has the right to protect his/her family, and to borrow Malcolm’s over-used phrase, “by any means necessary.”

From information revealed on social media it was apparent that the blocked road could have served as an alternative route for those familiar with the area. But some of the residents evidently believed they were exempt from the challenges posed by heavy traffic flowing through ‘their’ neighbourhood as was clearly demonstrated in their purchase of remote controls to open and close said gates; a small price to pay for being kept insulated and isolated. A small price to pay, indeed, for a sense of comfort and safety.

The bigger issue here is one faced by all citizens of this republic: one of security.

Photo: A terrified woman in her home.

Citizens of every socio-economic strata have been hard hit by fear, in one form or another. Many of us, myself included, have been victims of crime, or have friends, family members, or co-workers who have been.

The murder rate in the country, coupled with a dispiriting detection rate lends no comfort. Videos circulating on social media showing patrons being robbed in their homes, bars, restaurants do little to assuage our fears.

Too many citizens feel like sitting ducks; potential targets at the whims and fancies of street bandits. So we barricade ourselves in our homes to the extent that virtually all our homes have now become fire hazards.

Ironically, it’s one of the few places we feel a sense of safety and security. This sense of security is often shattered, however, when we learn of some family who became victims in their own home.

Meanwhile, back at Sackville Street, the new sheriff sent a message to bandits ‘to fear him’. That crime has continued unabated is an indication of their thoughts of him and his hollow threats. The CoP is not a threat to anyone, except maybe himself. Gary Griffith is seen as a saviour by many precisely because the entire TTPS has demonstrated their collective incompetence for an entire generation.

Since my repatriation here, 23 years ago, I have watched as crime spiralled to where ‘normal’ is now to expect 500+ murders per year with not so much as a flinch. Not reaching 500 is seen as a great accomplishment.

Photo: A satirical take on crime.
(Copyright Zapiro/Cape Times)

I understand all too well citizens support of him, having done more than my fair share of studies in human behaviour. Citizens’ collective response is ‘well at least he can’t be as bad as the rest’.

The last few Ag CoPs were virtually silent as they understood all too well the challenges facing this nation and the TTPS. The TTPS’ greatest challenge is within its ranks. So the bad-john, ‘gun talk’, coming from Griffith is hot air.

Citizens have the right to protect themselves. The TTPS has demonstrated time and again their inability to do so. When it involves blocking major thoroughfares it is time that we reexamine the role of the protective services and the various agencies responsible for planning the nation’s infrastructure.

About Rudy Chato Paul Sr

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr, is passionate about gardening, music and writing and boasts post-graduate certification in Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology. He also studied Theology, which is why he is actively seeking to make Trinidad a better place rather than waiting for divine intervention. 

Check Also

Daly Bread: Commissioner Griffith, Chief Justice Archie and rationalising to death

A significant number of persons, including those who have deluded themselves, have written about the …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

31 comments

  1. Bayshore barriers taken down
    ■ Anna Ramdass
    anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com
    THE Bayshore barriers at Regents Park have been taken down.
    Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation (DMRC), Susan Hong, admitted yesterday the corporation gave permission for barriers to be installed at Bayshore near Regents Park.
    The barriers have now been removed.
    One week ago, Hong told the Express the corporation had not given any approvals for the barriers.
    Speaking to the Express yesterday by phone, Hong explained she is the councillor for the Glencoe, Goodwood and La Puerta areas and a written request was made to the corporation by residents for the installation of barriers.
    She said permission was given but with regulations to be followed.
    She said the barriers became illegal after these regulations were breached-one of which was that the barrier should always be manned.
    Hong said an electronic access to the barrier was not part of the regulation.
    Asked if the barriers would return if the regulations are followed, Hong said it would have to be put to a vote at the council.
    ‘I would support it 100 per cent. There are members of council who would support barriers. There are members who are totally against barriers. It is my personal opinion that people have to take steps to secure their property, their homes, their families,’ she said.
    Can’t block road
    Hong said the council had no problem with barriers but people must be prepared to follow the regulations.
    ‘This council would not give permission to block off a road completely,’ she said. ‘Some of the council would be for barriers under conditions; there were
    others who disagreed. Everyone has to vote,’ she said, adding that there must be agreement across the board.
    The council, she said, disagreed that the barriers should be there 24 hours a day and took the decision to request that it be removed.
    Divided a community
    Last week, residents of the area contacted the Express expressing frustration with the construction of the barrier which they said had been up for ‘several months’.
    The electronic barrier, the Express was told, was creating a divide between the communities, and raising tensions and frustration among residents.
    A short video clip which was time-stamped later recorded a man bending the barriers apart to allow accessibility to the areas.
    When the police were contacted, senior officials said they had been made aware of the damage to the barrier but had yet to receive an official complaint.
    It was said senior officers had visited some people in the community and had spoken to those responsible for the barriers, warning them that the presence of the barriers without approval from the corporation was in breach of the law.
    Hong said last week the corporation had not given any permission to put up these barriers.
    She recalled that the last conversation she would have had with representatives from the community on the issue was about two months ago.

  2. We have learned to ‘dismiss’ others as a coping strategy.

  3. Some are of the view that what we area actually experiencing is the “price of progress.” I hold and maintain that progress brings with it a sense of liberty and freedom, which we have long abandoned in exchange for the illusion of safety. We have also abandoned the lives of the young men killed by the police under the pretext of them being all bandits. A functional criminal justice system could avert the ubiquitous murders of our young African men.

    • Most of the murders are being committed almost on a daily basis by the young boys/men on each other and not by the police. We only hear the public outcry against the murders when the police is involved in an incident.

  4. I remember when i took my wife on honeymoon to Germany some 20 Years ago… she was constantly looking out of the window of the car and when sitting in my parents living-room she all of a sudden said: You do not have burglar Proofing in Germany?

    • Andreas that was me. Almost verbatim.

    • It’s actually very sad, but we began making concessions to bandits and now their authority is nearly absolute.

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan Also it seems that as soon as the police kills identified criminals in defensive gun combat that most folks in T&T will start complaining about police brutality etc sometimes due to party politics. It seems that Trinis generally want to have their cake and still eat it which adds to the problem.
      I believe T&T is nation filled with too many spoiled people who don’t want to make any of the sacrifices required to bring about positive change that is required to reduce crime.
      We also need to resume regular hanging of murderers (at least one per month) that we catch and find guilty since hanging for murder is still on the T&T law books. But since criminals believe the death penalty which is still on the T&T law books will not be carried out they feel no need to think twice about committing murder because:-
      1) They are unlikely to be apprehended
      2) Even if they are apprehended the worse that will happen to them is they will be put in jail and will be fed, clothed and looked after by the state.

      If only we would heed the words of the Shadow in this calypso he released all the way back in 1978 called “Human Rights” we would not all have to be living in homemade jails in T&T today as we seem to be content to continue doing forever into the future: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLI2oqm8LVs

    • Well as far as police shooting suspects go , I think a lot of people don’t understand how the justice system is supposed to work. If the police made it clear that a shooting by an officer can only be deemed justifiable pending the outcome of an investigation people would have more faith in the police.

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan I wonder that he wouldn’t understand what you just said actually

    • Andreas Stueven I remember when I returned how claustrophobic all the burglar proofing felt. It wasn’t so funny. Lol

      For that we have a few nice things because I’ll never forget my dad telling me after a couple days in Germany “I couldn’t put my finger on what was so odd but I now realized that I’m hearing no birds, no wildlife in the city! Not a sound, it’s so eerie!” At least we hear chirps and tweets during the days and loud crickets at night even if they might be interrupted by some gun shot or maddening fireworks. 🤷‍♀️

    • I can remember the shock of seeing burglar proofing being added to our house, when I was 9 years old. Up to that time, all I knew of closing windows at night was that we did so to keep the mosquitoes out.

      I’ve often remarked to my younger sister than we grew up in the same home, but very different houses.

    • Linda Louison to be honest i prefer eerie over gun shots. but anyways Charlotte street has not much to offer either, i’d say that depends very much of in which city and where there you are standing, most cities have in the Past Years to more or less success tried to rejuvenate their inner cities, that often almost died in the minute the shops closed. That includes greenery and animals that can live in an urban environment…

    • Ian Socapro Henry, you know that police almost never kill criminals right? They kill suspects. If you take that starting point, you would quicker understand why some people (myself included) are against police officers acting as judge, jury and executioner.
      Note I’m not talking about a police officer acting in self-defence here. I’m talking about officers who tend to never leave witnesses behing like the now retired Johnnie Abraham.

    • Lasana Liburd I think we are on the same page. I am not sanctioning police officers acting as judge, jury and executioner but if they are fired upon first by criminals I give their full right to shoot back and to shoot to kill if it helps them to preserve their lives. I respect the fact that police officers in T&T these days could be risking their lives by just being in uniform and passing through certain hot spots where certain criminals may feel embolden to fire upon police officers in order to make them feel unwelcome.

    • Ian sure. If anyone raises a gun, the police offer is entitled to act decisively. I won’t criticise that.
      Just when five men are killed and there is one gun, I’m suspicious.

    • Andreas Stueven yes I know and to be very honest, I much prefer how safe I was on the streets there. As a student, I fell asleep in a bus once coming from a late night party. When I woke up it was dawn and the bus driver had apparently taken me for several rounds around the city. That was precious to me and also the fact that I didn’t need to move in groups of friends. I travelled alone and met them, didn’t matter the time and never having to be looking behind my back. I still miss it a lot.

      I say that I prefer birds chirping because I have to tell myself that it’s okay somehow. I was in a very green city actually but for some reason, the night sounds weren’t there. I just recalled that the apartment I stayed in was strange so maybe it had something to do with that, who knows. Don’t take me seriously, I loved Germany.

    • Lasana Liburd I wonder if the money that these crooked officers received made up for their life afterwards. I’m confident that it didn’t. Plus they get old like everyone else and it’s then that memories of past deeds haunt their sleep as they slip into dementia or spend long hours alone.

    • Linda I suspect the chocolate tea in Trinidad is really good for sleep yes. But who knows…

  5. “Those who would give upessential Liberty, to purchase alittle temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
    Benjamin Franklin

  6. The nation doesn’t even have a fully functioning zoning plan – if it functions at all. steups

  7. A very Trinidadian thing to do is to adjust to accommodate problems rather than solve them. Nothing makes visitors as uneasy as the sight of that ubiquitous burglar proofing on entering the country.

    • Until we resolve the ongoing crime problems in T&T, the country will not be able to capitalize on its massive potential as a unique and diverse tourist destination. If we are serious about diversifying our economy then we have to resolve the ongoing crime problem and reduce murders to less than 100 per year (which is still too much in my book) and 90% plus of murders and robberies have to be solved and the perpetrators brought to justice in an efficient and timely manner. Outside of that we only spinning top in mud and fooling ourselves about T&T being a paradise to live in for most citizens.

    • Vernal, it is only after living away I realised that wasn’t normal. Otherwise you simply wouldn’t know that this is not just how houses are built. Like mini prisons.

    • Me too Lasana, I thought it was normal to not wear gold or brand name clothing, go to certain areas or attend certain fetes in order to be safe. A lot of what we accept is due to not knowing it isn’t normal.
      Ian, I’ve been explaining that for a long time now. The idea of leaving a safe country to visit Trinidad is almost as unappealing as that of visiting Iraq.

  8. I believe things may have gotten worse since 1984 when this song was released and helped Penguin to win the 1984 National T&T Calypso Monarch competition.

    A humorous but powerful social commentary by Sedley Joseph aka The Penguin about people locking themselves into homes covered with burglar-proofing.

    PENGUIN – WE LIVING IN JAIL (1984) ️



  9. Law is the law. If I was to erect a barrier in a Woodbrook street would it be allowed ? . We have major traffic problems with vehicles using our street to access the entertainment businesses on Ariapita Avenue . This is a case of racial and socio-economic class discrimination by both the police and regional corporation with the latter stating in public that they granted no authorization. Why haven’t the barriers been removed by the Police?
    It appears that lawlessness is authorized for some to protect themselves while the rest of us are prosecuted if we do the same.

  10. Allegedly there was a letter signed for the erection of the barriers. If there was not, why has the state not filed a suit or officially raised a concern?

    we have a pattern for what happens next from Jamaica. This is all proceeding according to expectations as society begins to spiral downward and millionaires begin to wall themselves off. Soon we will have private security with visible rifles in certain areas, and in our shopping malls.