Every time we read about murders and the high levels of criminal activity, we somehow feel that in spite of our best efforts, we are failing. The truth is however that our failings are because we have not put forward our best effort. Over the last ten years, I have been offering simple solutions to our crime situation which have been ignored, in preference for silly programmes like basketball competitions and short-term jobs.
The majority of murders are committed by young men in our society. These young men want expensive sneakers, cellphones, cars and "bling" for themselves and their girlfriends. Since I am in the construction business, I am confronted daily by many of these men seeking employment. I can say with certainty that most of them would prefer a well-paying job in relative safety rather than committing robbery and murder.
The long-term solution to crime is to increase economic activity that leads to sustainable, long-term employment for our young people. There cannot be the same failed approach to curbing crime like increased police activity and short-term employment for gangs. I am once again offering possible solutions that if implemented will address many of the problems we face.
We need to set up a Parks Department to look after beaches, rivers, waterfalls, caves, camping sites, swamps and wetlands, hiking trails, mountains, forests and bird sanctuaries. These should be managed by park rangers. People wishing to enter our national parks should pay for a permit to gain access. Park rangers should be uniformed individuals, precepted and trained to provide security, guidance and education to those accessing the parks.
The cost of this service will be met by Government contributions, sale of permits and from corporations who can contribute to the Parks Department. This will provide permanent employment for many youths, including the less educated.
Other permanent jobs can come from livestock farming on the abandoned Caroni lands; again, the income from this activity can supplement the cost of this initiative.
Permanent employment can also come from investment in a state-of-the-art pan factory and the aggressive international marketing of pan, Carnival and Carnival products. I have written at length about the opportunities available from revising our approach to the pan industry.
Again, I indicate that anyone planning criminal activity can make a licence plate for their car, proceed with their activity then change the plates. I suggest that all licence plates should carry security technology that prevents one from making their own plates. Plates should be made only and supplied by the Licensing Authority.
I also suggested that since most criminal activity is committed by repeat offenders, there should be a three-strikes law where individuals with three or more convictions are given mandatory long-term imprisonment of not less than ten years. This, coupled with prison reform where prisons are places of reform and learning rather than a school for creating hardened criminals with a hatred for the State, is necessary.
There is immediate need to make legal firearms available to those willing to meet the required training and criteria. The Police Service has to be totally overhauled to arrive at a well-trained, modern service that earns the respect and support of the general public. Here, the major obstacle is the lack of political will to tackle the shortcomings of this sector of our society.
In my next posting, I will tie all this into the need for extensive local government reform that is necessary to restructure Trinidad and Tobago.
May God bless our nation.
Steve Alvarez †