Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday that the People’s National Movement (PNM) would support no suggestion that policemen should get the $3.5 million reward offered by Government and Crime Stoppers for information on Dana Seetahal’s murder, or that policemen should receive large financial incentives for solving crime.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Rowley said: “I don’t know if anybody understands the import of that suggestion,” which was made this week by Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA).
He said if officer X gets information, he would not give it to his superiors, but would find a way to ensure that his partner can get the reward.
“And before you know it, it has reached the full extent where they would begin to commit crime to get the reward,” Rowley said.
He said this is distinct from giving special incentives for police officers who go beyond the call of duty.
Rowley said there was a particular snake—the fer de lance—in Martinique which had been bothering the farmers. He said the government there decided to pay the farmers a sum of money for each snake caught. But there was a hurricane which broke down the farmers’ cages and it was discovered that the farmers were breeding the snakes in order to get the money.
“So the very programme to put an end to fer de lance ended up breeding more fer de lance,” he said.
Referring to President Anthony Carmona’s nomination of Professor Ramesh Deosaran as a member of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Rowley said he had thought that the President had indicated that he would not be “recycling plastic bottles”.
Rowley said while he was in no way questioning Deosaran’s qualifications, he added: “I don’t know of any board room where one would have seen reappointments on glorious recommendations if the out-turn is as bad as it is with the Police Service.”
He said people kept saying that the detection rate for violent crime, especially murders, had fallen from 30 per cent down to single figures.
“If that is true, and I believe it so, then the people responsible for the Police Service ought not to be getting automatic reappointment.”
Rowley urged Government to “stop that foolish ad” about crime going down, since it “was annoying people”.
He also asked Government to come quickly to the Parliament to repeal the arrangement it currently had in place for the selection and appointment of a Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner and “put something better in place”.
Rowley said once one lived in Trinidad and Tobago, one could not come to the conclusion that in this area of governmental activity, with respect to securing the state and the work of the police, the job is being done.
“Never have I, along with the rest of the population, been more insecure within our borders. The streets have never been so insecure. So clearly we cannot be heaping praises upon ourselves about the wonderful job of the Police Service Commisson, if that is the case,” he said.
“Because the assignment of the Commission and the Police Service is to secure the people of Trinidad and Tobago and that is not being done.”
Rowley said he thought especially since there was general agreement that the selective process was drawn out, convoluted and wasteful, that Government would have repealed the legislation, before seeking to confirm Deosaran as a member of the PSC.
“There is a problem. We have an acting Commissioner of Police who is clearly not having the comfort of appointment as CoP. The population does not believe that the acting CoP is in charge of his men. He seems to be a journeyman waiting for crumbs off the table every six months. That is not what we want in the current environment,” Rowley said.
“Blood is flowing in the street and the police are so ineffective and far from conclusions. Why is FIGP a consideration in this matter? (The Finance and General Purposes Committee is currently considering amendments for the selection of the CoP and Deputy CoP),” Rowley asked.
Rowley said the job appraisals for the CoP and deputy CoP have become a “laughing stock”.
“The media...would be waiting to see if the CoP came with his pants down, how many straps or strokes he got, Is he going to be kept or is he going to be thrown out?”—Ria Taitt