By Raffique Shah
July 24, 2023
If, over the past 50 years, we, meaning citizens, police and other law enforcement agencies were to have captured, charged, tried and convicted one Mr Big for every hundred named, Trinidad and Tobago today will have been a crime-free society.
I make this bold statement not to look or sound funny, but to illustrate how stupid it is for law officers and politicians, especially senior officials—what they do to impress their bosses and the masses. Every so often when there is nothing positive to report, we hear utterances about “Mr Big”.
I should explain that my concept of Mr Big is someone who may be a financier of serious crime or the head of some gang. What he or she is capable of doing is triggering mayhem and murder anywhere in the country they feel like.
You and I are sure to know scores of such persons; one type moves around looking, acting, and maybe actually is worth millions of dollars shielded behind a lifestyle that separates him from the common crook.
The other manifestation of Mr Big is a young punk who nowadays sports an AR-15 (automatic rifle), boldly and loosely aiming it at any person or place he wishes to intimidate, his aim being to relieve his victims of some cash and other valuables. He has no class, but that does not make him any worse than his rival who drives a luxury vehicle and is better dressed.
But I stray from the path I propose to pursue today. Crime has reached uncontrollable levels in this country, and I should add smaller dots in the Caribbean—such as St Vincent, where gunmen slew seven people only last week. In fact, there is an infestation of crime in the Caribbean for sure and, maybe if we analyse the data, in many countries across the globe, including those that are seen as developed.
While I pity the poor buggers who are now facing mass murders that are weekend fare, we need to focus on our problems first. And, the picture is not a nice one. The new commissioner… and I mean no disrespect when I say I cannot now recall her name or those of many other officials who briefly fill vacancies in the anti-crime army, much the way criminals fill their rifles with bags of bullets. As they assure us citizens that breakthroughs are under way, crime kingpins face imminent arrest and the average citizen will be able to rest peacefully—not as in post-mortem, but while he is alive to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
And this is the thing, you know—these two-bit bandits who slug an old pensioner to the ground, relieve her of her money and what little valuables she may have, only to hear she died two days later… what manner of beast are we dealing with?
Most victims of robberies work hard for the few dollars they earn to keep their families together, to support their children at school, sweat day after day to afford very modest lifestyles; and those heartless animals, who value human lives no more than a dog or cat killed by a speeding car, see their criminal pursuits as their entitlement in life.
We cannot continue this way. To do so is to validate crime as a way of life. Any society that sinks to such depths of depravity has no place in the modern world. While our savages are chasing after little old women and men, and helpless children, elsewhere in the world while they have the staple fear of the good, the bad and the ugly, at least they commit crime with little or no gore, and maybe even with some silent support for those who see finance houses as fair targets for practical purposes.
I am not here advocating skimming off banks and other such institutions as being fair game in an unfair financial world. Thanks to Mr Anthony Smart and Mr Jason Julien for rectifying my problem recently. But modern-day thieves in the more developed world manipulate numbers and computers, which at least gives crime a humane face.
Our savages do not care for such niceties. Firing guns that they acquire from criminal entrepreneurs who rent by the hour, as I understand it, they kill man, woman and child who may impede their grab for a few dollars more or their bounty for another criminal’s life.
This nonsense, this wanton carnage simply cannot continue. We citizens are fed-up with police officers sanitising the numbers, making crime look as acceptable to society as some crooked politicians are. We must never accept crime of any collar, be it white-collar, blue-collar or any other collar. For far too long we have accepted low standards or no standards at every level that we fight the criminal elements.