All political parties, aspiring to get into Government, make pledges to control and/or curb crime in this beautiful twin island State. But when they get into Government, they fail badly. Various Ministers of National Security and even the acting Commissioner of Police have boasted that crime was down 30 percent.
But the murders continue to soar with very few of them being solved. The detection rate is less than ten percent. Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago do not feel safe any more in their homes, businesses, and on the streets. The Police Service is understaffed and the Homicide Bureau is under-equipped and lacks experience.
Over the past 22 years, 1999 recorded its lowest murder rate – 93. That was also the year that the UNC Government hanged Dole Chadee and eight members of his gang for the murders of four members of a Williamville family. That was when National Security Minister Joseph Theodore and Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, worked in tandem to executive the brutal killers.
But what has happened since then?
After the PNM took office in 2001, murders soared reaching to an all time record of 550 in 2008. Since then the figure has dropped, but by how many. Last year, we recorded 410, and the way we are going this year, the record of 550 could be broken.
What is really causing the murder rate to soar?
Gang warfare and the fight for turfs. The gangs are operating with impunity. It is said that some of these gangs have police officers on their payroll and they are tipped off about any impending raids. These corrupt officers put the lives of committed officers at risk.
The committed officers may walk into an ambush and either be killed and injured. Look how many police officers are before the courts, a record of sorts. it is said that some police officers collect as much as $30,000 a month from gangs, so they are not really committed to policing.
What can the Commissioner of Police do? Absolutely nothing.
Whenever there is a spike in murders, the politicians send soldiers to assist. Look at what happened recently, soldiers were sent into Laventille with great PR. Today, there are very few soldiers in Laventille. Gangs monitor their movements and still carry out their crimes. The law abiding citizens in Laventille are at the mercy of the gangs and their members. The soldiers have made no dent in Laventille.
Gangs are now recruiting school children into their fold. They send out members into the depressed community and try to persuade the youths to turn away from school and join gangs which are more lucrative. Some of the youths have fallen to the gangs. Some have dropped out of school, while others remain in school and conduct their gang activities.
Look at the youth who was killed in St Augustine in March. He was a schoolboy at day and seller of guns at night. So apart from the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Education (Guidance Counsellor Department, must get involved and play a critical role in the lives of these youths.
A generation could be lost if we do no wake up and smell the coffee.
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