Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Into the lawmen’s laps

 Senior members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) have expressed surprise criminals are “brazen and disrespectful” to shoot a man outside the courthouse. One cannot help but wonder: are they also surprised the murder rates over the past several years have been hovering in the vicinity of 350 to 500 annually? Were they surprised when they learn their pathetic detection rates are largely responsible for such “boldfacedness”?

We have observed senior members of this organisation going out of their way to pat their juniors on the backs for “jobs well done”, when in actuality they were just doing what they have been paid to do all along. Or is it that they need to vote themselves a “duty allowance” package? Had members of this organisation been doing what they had been paid to do all along, the brazen surprises with which we are now confronted would never have been allowed to develop.

Like a bush fire or cancer, crime left untreated will evidently run its course. The surprises we are now experiencing in the form of boldfaced­ness did not just manifest themselves overnight; nor did they drop out of the clear blue. They are all homemade, and the Police Service must be awarded due credit.

Were we not advised a couple days ago serious crimes were down? Perhaps, unknowingly, murder was removed from the category of “serious crimes”? Or is it the boldfacedness or the “lack of respect”?

“Boldfaced” murders must come as a surprise to senior members of the TTPS. This organisation was inefficient and incompetent even when it was a “police force”. Those who were policemen then now make up the “senior officers” 40 years later—in the wilderness. 

The crime-fighting modus operandi of this organisation has consistently been the purchase of new vehicles, more firearms, newer, air-conditioned stations, new uniforms, more officers... And when one is caught on camera stuffing casino money into his pockets, he is merely transferred as punishment. That a Prime Minister has managed to fire more people than all the acting Police Commissioners combined, in four years, speaks volumes. 

It should be of interest to note the vast majority of these victims have been described often by family members and friends as either a “nice fella”, “a cool fella”, “a good boy”, “a good man” or “cool going”. The question becomes: why are all the “good men” in society being killed, and by whom? Is there a conspiracy to kill all these “good men”? Or is this merely a fulfilment of the prophecy “the good die young”? It is interesting to note, also, most of these good men were “known to the police”.

Over the years, I have laid most of the blame for the current crime phenomenon squarely at the doorsteps of the TTPS. In the process, however, a couple other organisations have gone unnoticed. Their role in the crime phenomenon is often overlooked, but is as significant. I refer here specifically to Customs, the Coast Guard and the Air Guard.

That the majority of murders are committed with firearms is no secret. It appears everyone now has a firearm: from school children to the gainfully unemployed. It becomes clear firearms are easily affordable and available. If firearms are easily found among the “broke” and unemployed, then what do we expect of the individuals who are financially better off? 

The entry of these weapons poses serious concerns. One theory is someone or “a couple someones” at Customs have been asleep on the job. The alternative theory is more frightening: that Customs officials are in collusion with firearms importers. The same theory holds for the Coast Guard and the Air Guard.

“To whom much is given, much is expected”. It is the responsibility of the TTPS to do its job in a professional manner and ascertain the source. And stop acting surprised by the lawlessness.

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr