Crime stats meaningless to citizen’s lives
While the murders continue unabated, we just received another round of stats coming from the current Minster of National Security (MNS).
This time, it’s “ten known gang members who are behind the majority of murder in this country”. This is according to the gospel of Mr Garry Griffith, who, on the heels of coming to office a few weeks ago, sent a clear and cogent message to criminals that their lawless behaviour will not be condoned, that their days were numbered.
It is apparent, even quite possible, that these “ten gang leaders” didn’t receive Mr Griffith’s memo or, if they did, ignored his threat sent out upon entering office. It is quite clear the medium he employed—the sound bites under parliamentary privileges and post-Cabinet conferences—intended to send fear into the hearts and minds of criminals, never made its way to the nation’s landfills, hot spots and killing gardens.
I recall a former MNS, a Mr Martin Joseph, who, once upon a time, also told us he knew how many gangs there were. He even knew their membership, their numbers, and location. In this land of the ten-day wonder, Mr Joseph has since faded away into an era which seems to be something of a distant past.
We also hear the spin doctors, again, under parliamentary privilege, comparing this year’s numbers to those of previous years, telling us that crime is down. What the spin doctors failed to factor in is that people have less confidence in the police today, despite police claims, and are refusing to report crimes, seeing the police as a complete waste of time.
But using numbers to “mamaguy” a vulnerable population makes good public relations, allowing the people who proposed to reduce crime in their first 100 days in office to relive their “ah-ha” moment.
Then there is the acting Commissioner of Police who had to clear up his statement for us illiterate citizens, letting us know that in his speech at UWI (The University of the West Indies), he did not make “a prediction”. He was merely doing a little math, which involved a little dividing, averaging, and adding, which explains how he arrived at his “anticipated” (my term) numbers of 399. Then we wonder how we got here.
I write often on issues in crime as a citizen because crime is an “issue”, and not a “problem”, as persons who have found themselves in positions of authority would like to have us believe; they are clueless on the difference. Problems affect few people while issues affect the wider population.
I write about crime as I look at our neighbour Jamaica and see where they are and where we are. Many Jamaicans are asking how they got there while similar concerns are echoed in this, our native land. I recall Dr Selwyn Ryan’s article a couple years ago on the “Jamaicanisation of Trinidad and Tobago”.
There’s a lot to learn from the Jamaican experience as we share a lot in common, primary amongst them is a dysfunctional, two-party system, driven by ego-megalomaniacs who superimpose party on the nation. The tit-for-tat politics of “who did what and stole how much” become the precedent for doing the same—with no shame—and is justified.
Nepotism, maximum loyalty to the leader, victimisation, incompetence, and the “eat-a-food” philosophy, which has become the plasma in the nation’s blood, are some of the plaque which prevent them from looking outside of their comfort zone for professional assistance to deal with the many issues facing us as a nation. Maximum leaders surround themselves with “cabals” and “yes-men” who refuse to tell them they stand naked.
Like many other citizens who take time to share our concerns, we do it for the love of nation, to see a future for T&T. If only those who ran this place shared similar concerns, they’d know that all the stats are meaningless.
Rudy Chato Paul, Sr