FULs no solution to crime problem

By Raffique Shah
January 31, 2022

Raffique ShahIf there was anything shocking about the non-appointment of a new Commissioner of Police, the simultaneous publication of the retired Justice Stanley John’s report and the stench that emanated from the innards of the records room when its files were opened, it was the surprise expressed by citizens over the scandalous state of affairs in the Police Service.

When I read the Sunday Express headline that excited most people—“A well-oiled criminal enterprise”—I almost yawned and turned to other news and features in the newspaper. But curiosity got the better of me, and I read extracts from what will henceforth be known as “The Stanley John Report”, hoping to see names and the amounts that policemen and whomever else were involved in this lucrative racket were alleged to have taken as bribes.

Of course, there were no names since the report will be treated as allegations until they are substantiated or dismissed. But with everyone on anti-social media and mainstream newsrooms chiming in on this latest scandal, I smiled and said to myself: this country is really the land of nine-day wonders. Something crops up and in no time it displaces stories like this one, only to repeat the circuit over and over again.

How many of those who saw in this guns-for-bribes scandal, who are very disturbed that this is where the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has arrived 60 years after the country gained independence, recall the Scott Drug Report that was a damning indictment against a long list of the most prominent policemen at the time (mid-1980s), a Who’s Who in the highest echelons of the narcotics trade in the region, politicians, scamps, rogues and thieves?

Who remembers that document that landed in then-Prime Minister George Chambers’ lap, with everybody who was anybody with rank or access to “rankers” dying—many times, literally—to find out if he or she (yes, some high-society women were named as cocaine dealers or addicts) had “made” the infamous list. Chambers kept it secret, but later, copies were “leaked” to the media, much the way this report of lesser importance landed in a reporter’s mailbox, presumably. Nothing ever came out of the Scott report.

The Stanley John Report is of significance mainly because it is said to contain the names of persons who applied for, and were said to have been granted, licences to own and use firearms; and in what the Express has featured thus far, some of the applicants had lotto-like luck, literally licences to own and bear up to scores of firearms. Understandably, and especially when Gary Griffith, who was Commissioner when much or all of these approvals were granted, said such multiple-armed citizens will be strategically available to render assistance to the police with their mini-armies, citizens started asking questions.

Because hundreds, maybe thousands, of people had applied for Firearm User’s Licences (FULs) over the years, but theirs were rejected or never considered. When Gary Cooper…er, Griffith, rode into Grudge City announcing “arms for the armless”, these people’s hopes had risen: at long last, we will get us the guns we desperately need to protect ourselves.

But the vast majority of the applicants remain armless, while those who appear to wield influence—be it by the size of their bank accounts, their social standing or colour of their skin—are walking around like gods.

Now, I need insert here a declaration that post-army-cum-mutiny, I never applied for a FUL, not even when my fellow MPs of 1976, on all sides of the political benches, started to look like cross-bred James Bond and Django. Only Dr Eric Williams and I remained armless—for different reasons, I think.

During training in England, I fired weapons from revolvers and pistols through rifles and machine guns, and even had a go with heavy artillery—the 105mm pack howitzer and everything in between.

At age 30, I didn’t trust myself with guns. What with all kinds of stupid people walking around saying stupider things, I might have been tempted to put them out of their misery. Dr Williams, as far as I know, did not like guns around him.

But there was another reason on which we both found common ground. How many FUL holders have successfully used their firearms to defend themselves and their families? Very few. Instead, they have been so irresponsible handling firearms, it’s shameful. Worst of all, criminals have taken these same weapons and used them against the holders and other citizens. Arming the citizenry is no solution to the crime problem.

Those FUL holders who paid outrageous sums as bribes to secure weapons should probably retrieve their money, return the FULs and save themselves from being jailed alongside those who granted them.

5 thoughts on “FULs no solution to crime problem”

  1. Remembered the Scott Drug Report very well as you claim was buried. How many reports that affect society at large remain to collect dust on shelves or buried? Environmental, Agrarian, etc. for example. Reports generally remain buried because whatever government is in power initiates such in the first place to show they are doing something but as time elapses triggers election time is due and it would be damning for them to release such. The key word here is corruption by the lawmakers themselves with undertones of financial backing to keep it buried. QED!

  2. The crime rate in Westmoorings is very low. I am sure per capita the 5,000 Syrians have more police issued firearm than any group. Mom, dad, son, daughter hits the firing range and have mastered the art of the quick draw. Also I am sure with cameras motion sensors and a proper body disposal system even the police would think twice about entering those communities.

    When Joel Balcon operated freely for over a decade kidnapping, torturing, murdering a large number of women, his reign of terror ended when the police got serious about this evil crooked monster. It took the death of Andrea to end his reign with over 80 serious charges hanging over his head. He was the most protected and prolific serial killer this nation had ever seen. And yet little investigation has been done by the police and media to uncover the horror, only Ian Alleyne interviewed one of the victims who survived this terrible ordeal. Despite all the information police with guns did nothing. Having a gun and uniform means nothing if a criminal roam the streets targeting the most vulnerable.

  3. “HOMICIDE investigators have confirmed that the decomposing body found in the Heights of Aripo last Friday are those of missing Cocorite woman Keithisha Cudjoe.
    Cudjoe, 21, of Harding Place, was last seen on January 24.
    Police said the body was confirmed as Cudjoe’s based on the type of clothing found, hairstyle and specific body piercings.
    Cudjoe’s body was found in the same general area almost exactly one year to the day the body of Arima court clerk Andrea Bharatt was found.” Newsday.

    The spectre of other Joel Balcons still lurk deep into the fields of death. I have always believe that the book should not have been closed after Balcon demise. There are women out there who escape the treacherous hand of this serial killer. We know that other men were involved including including Morris who possess her bank card etc. They should have been given an incentive to come forward and speak to the issue.

    The body of 21 year old Keithisha Cudjoe show up at the same spot where Andrea body was found. Could it be that there is still a serial killer out there sending a message? This young lady did not deserved to die this way. Serial killers like to send messages, taunt the police and take risks. It is their calling card. Their opportunity to say we are here come and find us…. But will the homicide detection rate improve from its current 12%???

  4. Criminals come mostly from broken homes. Sometimes it is a serious inter generational issue. Daddy or big brother did some jail time and so lil brother wanting a role model follow in their footsteps. Let’s just say that when the bar is lowered, the next generation find it is easier for them to climb over.

    The second factor is single parenting. It is a known fact that children raised in an undisciplined anger filled home, with a mother who is always absent or have a number of lovers are at greater risk to becoming a gang member. You may as well right the obituary or build the coffin. Having dealt with children under the age of 12, I can with a great deal of certainty identify the ones who have the potential to commit criminal acts. Their most telling sign is the angry look they have, possibly coming from a home where neglect is strong.

    The government can embark on any program to steer these youths away from crime but the at risk ones isolate themselves and do not seek help. Social workers have to be bold enough to enter their space and impose an intervention.

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