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Another vaps

Rowley unimpressed with Jack’s crime plan

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Another vaps from the National Security Minister.

That’s how Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley described the latest plan of Minister Jack Warner to call out all the armed forces to help in the fight against crime.

Warner said with the Carnival season approaching, he was forced to take drastic measures to ensure citizens' safety. The plan involves having the soldiers setting up camps in crime hotspots to work alongside the police. The plan also involves using the Air Guard to work in tandem with the army and police.

But Rowley was unimpressed.

“I suppose that must be the latest crime plan. But what we are looking for is a well-thought, self-sustainable initiative to address the criminal elements. All these stop-gap, knee-jerk reactions are not a crime plan.”

Rowley said a plan which would produce results in the area of deterring, detecting and reducing the level of criminal activity was still required.

“And you would only get that by improving the trust between the police and the population. These are the elements of a crime plan that we want to see. But this Minister is just jumping from vaps to vaps... And that is not a proper national crime plan,” Rowley stated.

He said many of these initiatives were so disjointed that they face resistance from the people who are supposed to be involved.

“I recall that one of the plans was to have how many thousand (20,000) security guards work with the police, then another plan was 7,000 SRPs by Christmas, then it was thousands of policemen occupying Laventille, then it was to have 1,000 soldiers being precepted. Now it is calling out the army. From vaps to vaps,” the Opposition Leader said.

“So instead of a proper crime plan being determined by the Ministry backed up by its resources, human and otherwise, what you have is ministerial vaps. Every time Mr Warner wakes up, he gets a vaps and he executes it or he announces it and nothing happens. This Minister is a minister of vaps. Everything he thinks about or somebody tells him, he announces as a plan, and when the plan is found to have shortcomings, he abandons it and goes to the next vaps.”

Rowley recalled that after Warner announced the plan to precept soldiers, it immediately fell under questioning by the police and some elements of the army.

“So it is doomed not to be properly supported by the people who are supposed to execute it. And that is what a vaps does...until you announce it, they (the critical stakeholders) don't know if you would do (so), and when you announce it you realise that you don't have the support that you should have for it. So these plans are not properly thought out, they are announcements which precede thought.

Because it is all about politicising the fight against crime and trying to score political points or trying to get credit for something that is not done properly.”

Rowley said the Government was so much in search of credit and of trying to look good, that it was impatient about executing a proper plan which could have a sustained approach and which could give the country the kind of results it wants.

“They are desperately looking for good news and what we get are announcements. This is a Government of announcement and they believe that announcements would give them credit and that the population would feel that something is happening when in fact the opposite is true.

“Every Monday morning is a new announcement and a new vaps,” he added.

And last night on CNC3 News, Warner said: “We shall become a terror to every criminal in Trinidad. This is no idle boast. People can call it histrionics or idle talk, but we shall not relent whatsoever to the criminal...”

Following lengthy discussions with the security forces, the Minister added that gangs are responsible for the recent upsurge in murders.

On Monday, talks were held with the police and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the green light given to use anti-gang legislation.

“With that advice from the DPP, the police are now being told to go full speed ahead and take them. I am advised by the police that they have enough evidence now to take these guys away if they are in gangs. Just before, if it was a rumour or phone call, the police now have enough evidence and that is why they went to the DPP,” said Warner, who has asked the police to adjust their goal and wants crime to be reduced in the next three years.

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