It is relieving and commendable that the brother of a young man fatally felled by police bullets has retracted and apologised for his alarmingly vengeful and menacing utterances.
His widely quoted words had come over both as a personal vow and an incitement to others toward taking the law into their own hands. Given voice immediately after his brother’s death, his sentiments also had the provocative effect of putting police officers on their guard, to the extent even of inducing them to adopt more proactively aggressive approaches.
It is wholly untenable that police officers, sworn to protect and serve in areas overrun by violence, should feel themselves so under the gun as to adopt first-strike, self-defence attitudes.
By the same token, responsible citizens, assessing the fatal results involving police in stand-offs inside hotspots, should insist on procedures supportive of the law taking its course.
It is thus unhelpful of MP Marlene McDonald, also a lawyer, to impute motives to the authorities by citing some “perception that you can’t deal with crime so your policy is to shoot on spot”.
Following the example of the man who withdrew and apologised for his inflammatory language, Ms McDonald should demonstrate herself not to be pandering to any “side”, but rather upholding the law of the land, by reasonably sharing the benefit of the doubt with those sworn to enforce the law.
In these bullet-riddled regions, where a woman can be shot down in cold blood while trying to protect her children, the last thing that is needed is someone attempting to score petty political points.
Instead, both sides of the divide should be co-operating with the law enforcement agencies, trying their utmost to restore some semblance of peace in what is fast becoming an untenable situation.
With grieving mothers speaking about aimless youths firing their weapons at will in Trinidad’s badlands—no matter who is in their sights—there is no doubt that something serious has to be done in light of such callous disregard for the sanctity of life.
The police and their Defence Force colleagues need all the help they can get, rather than those in a position to lend assistance taking the route that they think may earn them a vote or two.
At the end of the day, no matter what political party is in power, it is the long arm of the law that will be called upon to restore order.
There is no denying that there have been instances when the police have shot first and asked questions later and that can never be tolerated, but they are the ones under fire on a daily basis and are still our only hope of turning the tide in this war on heartless criminals.
They need the support of all law-abiding citizens.