Surrender…and Die

By Raffique Shah
January 05, 2014

Raffique ShahWe have tried every conceivable strategy, many inconceivable ones, and some downright dotish crime plans. And we have failed—miserably so. From Anaconda to Iguana, Baghdad to Budapest (where we lost young footballer Akeem Adams to a heart attack, of all things!), nothing has stopped the march of the criminals.

In hotspots and hitherto cold zones, from every angle and using every weapon, at high noon and in the darkest of nights, they stalk and attack, kill, maim, rape, plunder. In their tsunami-like wake, they leave behind rivers of blood, more corpses than Stephen Ramroop and the ODPM’s bizarre collection of body bags can hold, and the eviscerated souls of victims who will never recover in this life or the next.

Even as the police trumpet a 30-per-cent dent in serious crime last year, the demons usher in the New Year with nine killed in the first three days—an in-your-face insult: yuh think you could tame we? We go show Stephen Williams how not to count!

What more can a beleaguered country do to stem this tidal wave of crime? Maybe we should surrender, and I am not being facetious here. Some might argue, with justification, that we have already done that. There are districts where the police never venture, where criminals “patrol” the streets, weapons in hand. Known gangland bosses are awarded big government contracts that are inaccessible to law-abiding citizens. And on one occasion last year, in the Beetham, we witnessed the alarming spectacle of soldiers in full retreat from a mob of angry residents.

The surrender I am thinking of, though, is a much more formal affair. Make the biggest white flag you ever saw, bigger than Gary Hunt’s stadium rag-hell, let Peter Minshall design the damn thing. Stage the ceremony in the Savannah, that sacred ground for “wining”, parading, partying, pan and prayers. The 11 or however many gang leaders Minister Gary Griffith has identified, will be invited (fully armed, of course) to accept our surrender, the flag-of-shame borne by Griffith and Commissioner Williams, ensigns worthy of the occasion.

Now, all of this might sound like madness, the ranting of a demented old geezer-it may well be. But who sent me mad? The parade of politicians and impotent police officers who, over the past two decades or more, have failed to rein in crime, who have ceded the whole damn country to criminals.

Little wonder we are in a seemingly hopeless situation, with everyone pointing fingers at each other even as the gunmen point their gun barrels at their next victims. Blame rogue cops, says Minister Griffith: that’s a new one—50 years new! Blame the entire Police Service, says Minister Bhoe Tewarie. Hang them high, scream pastors and members of the public.

Well, what’s holding back the hangman? It can’t be the law, which is very clear: the penalty for murder is death by hanging. But how can you hang killers you do not know or never arrest? In the rare instances where a handful are held and charged, for reasons best known to the administrators of justice it takes forever to bring them to trial. Securing convictions is as challenging as finding an honest politician.

So people who are calling for a return of the hangman are nincompoops. The hangman is ready to “pop necks”, but the system is not delivering.

What is clear is that in the fourteenth year of the new millennium, we seem to have run out of options to deal with crime. The police pronounce that the numbers are down, an innovative way of using statistics to baffle the brains. Minister Griffith sounded an ominous warning when he took office a few months ago: talk done, time for action! Well, we have seen lots of action, but from the criminals, not the forces of law and order.

Before him, a string of senior police officers and ministers all promised to wipe the floor with the gunmen’s blood. Instead, the killers screwed their faces with bloodied hands. If anything, we have been marking time for decades. For the 40 billion or more of taxpayers’ dollars expended on fighting crime since the year 2000, what have we had but more crime, more blood?

Why have we not installed CCTV cameras and control systems that have proven to help reduce crime and improve arrests rates in many metropolitan cities around the world. They are far from perfect, but they come closest to having round-the-clock eyes monitoring highways, town centres and critical locations. Remember how the Boston Marathon bombers were identified and arrested in quick time?

We have huge numbers of computerised cars on the nation’s roads, but a Licensing Department that’s still in the donkey cart era. Our police stations and departments are not computerised or networked. Police vehicles cannot access vital information in real time. Is there legislation in place to allow CCTV images to be admissible as evidence in court?

I doubt it. Instead, governments waste money on non-essentials as criminals roam free. We might as well surrender…and die.

14 Responses to “Surrender…and Die”


  • As I read this article from a former military man it really summarizes the despair and frustrations of most citizens in the small island of T&T. The relentless killings and plunderings go beyond the understanding of the causes for the paralysis that is hitting the nation severely on it’s important and valuable human resource. I was speaking to a very good friend recently and he is of the opinion nearly everyone in T&T has had a relative that suffered at the hands of criminal elements. Is this the solution? No, we are paying the price of what we have sown in the past and that is what we are reaping now. Believe me, Selwyn Richardson paid for that with his life. If we care for our children then the creed of today becomes the deed of tomorrow and by surrendering is definitely not the solution. Let’s correct the judicial, legal and eductional problems with these existing institutions if it even means weeding out corrupt individuals including the financiers.

  • Comrade Lt. Raffique Shah, I hereby suggests you become National Security Minister or Advisor to the NSM. You seem to have some solutions to the problem of crime. Let me just say this, I do not believe this problem can be curtailed or eradicated. This is a complex situation created over decades.The breeding ground for criminals is broken families, single parenting and no parenting.It does not matter who is appointed NSM or COP or whatever crime fighting plan is initiated. We just have to trust God Almighty for our protection. Anyway, Comrade I always enjoy reading your column. All the best for the New Year to you and the people of sweet T&T.

  • Shah,you are my favourite author on this website.Jamais(never)ever surrender!!!Although I comprehend the allegory.Former U.S President Bill Clinton informed the world that:”to solve a problem one must speak to their enemy”..This approach deserves some consideration.Since,dialogue is preferable to death.

    The T&T Government must appoint a commission (please no hotheads)which include members of “every” religious sect to engage the criminals in a peaceful debate.There must be “guarantees” that these debates are not “tricks” to capture or to “harm” the criminals.The venue un-disclosed.

    Appoint two moderators (one for each team)and inquire of the criminals:”What action should the Government initiate to prevent the senseless murders of its citizens?” Assure them(the criminals)that you are prepared to “listen”.”It seems impossible until it’s done” (Nelson Mandela) God bless!!!!

  • I share your “point of view”…nonetheless there is a solution for “every” problem…..

  • The institution of governing a country should be taken as a very serious and consequential matter. It is the one area where in order to be successful you must enroll “the best and the brightest” to manage the resources and agencies of government. Whilst crime is not new and has been around for some time now, it continues to grow and and enlist more people each day because in some very important ways there are signs that crime does pay. I believe that crime starts with the word ‘perception’. In reading the bloggs there is little doubt that if we were to assign a home to the word ‘crime’ it will almost inevitably be called Laventille, Morvant or some other places where our media has taught us that crime ‘lives’. Why? – because it is seen almost exclusively as offenses committed by the uneducated, poor and under-class of our society and to suite our designation we know for sure that these people live in these communities. For the purpose of this designation I would prefer to see ‘crime’ in the shape of a pyramid where its authors, financiers, architects and operational chiefs reside at the top of the pyramid. Why this is so? The ingredients that fuel crime such as guns, drugs, racketeering, money laundering and transporting of prostitutes and not cheap adventures but activities that call for a a very high financial input in order to be successful. Such resources must come from the tip of the pyramid. Who are they that reside at the top of pyramid? Who are they that have the resources to control and eventually be the beneficiaries? they are the ones at the top of the pyramid. One would ask if that is so why is not crime more vibrant in the wealthier places? Answer is easy – why would such activities be allowed to be committed in the loftier places of abode? They are looked upon as being clean and perfect, their communities are seen as clean and perfect, and their reputations must be just as clean and perfect in the eyes of the country and communities. The activities of the pyramid base are generally not contained in the plans of those at the tip. The get into simplicities such as turfs, areas, spite and personal vendettas that result in the most horrifying of criminal activities. These are the activities that affect our personal tastes, mind sets and fears most, so we naturally place the blame of crime on those that form the bases of the criminal pyramid. Within the pyramid of the criminal structures there are the enforcers who by reason of their positions have a lot to loose so they too guard their positions of authority and stature. The word ‘leader’ carries
    with it responsibility, respect, ethical behavior, so carrying on with criminality and responsible public behavior calls for generating the kind of respectable vision that country and community as whole must see in the individual in order to remain at the collective acceptability that is required to maintain the roles that are important to be considered a VIP. In this country because government is our biggest employer and resource, we naturally look upon those who represent government as our natural leaders because they are the product of what we view as our constitutional right to elect a government to govern us. When these ‘leaders’ fail or fail to represent themselves favorably it becomes a mark of what is acceptable in our society. So when recently, members representing the higher echelons of society chose to be present at a wedding thrown by a super rich member of society and one who is under indictment by the most powerful country in the world justify their presence by simply saying that they were supporting a ‘friend’, we of the wider makeup of society may not be incorrect in associating them as supporters of crime. I associate Raff’s use of the term ‘surrender’ not as an act of surrender but one in which we can collectively use mass events to show our disgust with crime. We can hardly rely upon the official crime fighters to fight crime because they too may not be too certain of their own activities. So, we the public must take the signature of crime fighting into our own hards and make that the hallmark of our concerns toward those who claim that they have our best interest to be safe at heart.

  • The government is suppose to bring crime under control, now where is the responsibilty of good citizenship in the exercise of ending the madness. When you have 16 year olds girls making babies with no paternal figures around and continuing to have fun with different men producing children who will grow up fending for themselves, you are creating a society of promiscuity with the girls and angry killers with the boys.

    Charles Manson a man who murdered 30 young girls came from a home where he was raised by a young mother. Young Charles watched as various men came and slept with his mother. He was abuse by some of these men and grew with with an incredible hatred for his mother and his life. He later murdered young women because they reminded him of the person he hated the most.

    Many of these youths coming from these broken homes are growing up very angry with no family life, they become easy target for gangs and guns. When they kill others the pain in their heart is lifted but then again they must kill again to feel good. Old habits are repeated again in their lives. To break the cycle marriage must honored. Fornicator destroy themselves and others.

  • No wonder this state of affairs has taken over this place. Now 900 Million Mid Centre Mall Upgrade… You know how much unfortunate and poor people who struggling to make ends meet can be benefited from this.
    All this senseless Killings!! all this waste of money that is being generated in the wrong directions. When would we learn?
    Seems as though no body can solve this dreaded situation that came on with the new year. To much Bosses!! To much Head in this and head in that, while everybody hiding their heads in the Sand.
    If the head is loose, the body would automatically be loose! If the head is strong, the body would be strong. A call for a national day of PRAY is not enough! Deep instilling of Moral and Religious values is Lacking. Who we fooling?
    Is there any Role models for these young people them have to look up to and follow? I guess not, is only vanity and mad rush after materialism fulling the young people’s mind. So they running after it.
    To all my Religious People out there! don’t play religious, be religious, now is the time that the Nation at large needs yuh!! Stop the Earthly Transactions and start looking up.
    By beholding yuh become changed, by what knowledge you function after, is what you would be. And this is what we are seeing all around us.Ships without charts and compass, Roads without direction, blind leading blind.
    More than a national day of PRAY is needed, more than a national day of MOURNING is needed, so much people MOURNING deep down inside by simply looking at what has fallen upon this Beautiful place of T&T. Wuh come on we BOY??
    Lah-jab-less and JUMBIES Roaming the place. Human Zombies are we for real? Now the weight on yuh hand!! Leaders! Step up to the plate and deliver!Nuff TALKING! Talking days Gone, everything is only reflection NOW…

  • Who controlling Who?

  • My article please under Trini (Sam)

  • Let see, so how are these criminals going to be identified. I suppose that these criminals all belong to an identifiable group that makes location by name or other form of identity irrelevant. And what is this talking to criminals. Aren’t criminals people who were tried and convicted of crimes. And what about talking to the criminals in high office whose violence is vicarious, but never less as serious as that we lament over.

  • “Anything of legitimate value is never easily achieved”(Swordfish)One of my philosophical “musings” over the years.Evidently,a panacea is the requirement to solve the nation’s woes.Elected officials engage yourselves and “brainstorm”.The answers are usually “beneath your noses”

    It’s not a sign of “weakness” to confer with criminals.Perhaps,they yearn for simple verbal exchanges which they never received in their formative years.Acquire a few intermediaries;and initiate an atmosphere of trustworthiness which results in a truce.

    “The pen is mightier than the sword”..Adopt “some” examples of the Canadian Judicial system..e.g.adult education,a parole board,guidance counsellors.Some criminals have successfully been rehabilitated.”The straight and narrow way” is difficult,and triumphant.

  • Thanks for a great blog. While I don’t have a solution to the crime problem I wish to make one observation. I observe that often when new plans to fight crime are made they are made public. Why can’t the plans be executed without talk. The element of surprise can catch the criminals off guard. “Action speakers louder than words”
    Mr. Minister of National Security, please be quiet. We are tired of talk and inaction. Plan your work and work your plan. Don’t you see that that is how the criminals operate? Use their strategy against them.

  • Government cannot regulate personal choice and behavior in a free market society. My suggestion is that the government create more attractive alternatives for young men to invest their time in.

  • In the latest installment of Raff’s articles on the state of crime he offered, “We need to harness all our resources, mobilise all citizens to rescue the nation from falling into the abyss of a “failed state”, over which it is precariously poised. ” I have often stated that people in Trinidad have a tunnel vision of crime. Many of them even express political solutions to what is evidently a severe case of social and dysfunctional behavior
    deriving from our upbringing and environmental experience. There is also the element of psychological and mental abnormalities which are not considered or passively included in the solutions we seek in the fight against crime. By that, I mean as a long term solution we must seriously engage and institute measures that deal with mental health, children, poverty and education to get a handle on what might possibly constitute the DNA of crime. While engaging law enforcement and prisons as the immediate agencies in that fight, it is foolhardy to suggest or even believe that with the chronic state of criminal behavior in our population, we should only depend on them to combat the causes to resolve the situation. If ever there was a time to deploy psychologists, psycho analysts, social reformers and therapist in seeking a cure for our national ills, that time is now. The jokers that come on TV with a “phd” offering political solutions to what evidently should be long term and studied efforts to discover what is really failing our behavior towards a better conduct, should not be allowed to be part of the solution. Can we not put together a team of professionals from law enforcement, history, psycho analysis, media, medicine, education and social science to come up with workable solutions to fight crime? Noticeable absent from my suggestion is politics, why? politicians are not working professionals, they provide the means and have the go ahead to make the funding available. Can we do it? Yes we can. There is a pre-occupation with our current thinking that having or bringing someone who has developed a reputation for crime fighting will show us the way to a solution from our dilemma, but such thinking can only lead us to more trouble than we bargained for because these people are conversant with the statistical nature of the crimes they study and also have(and do provide for) supplemental attributes that would help their resolve. Crime in Trinidad is not a fix-quick phenomenon. There is no point in finding a thief, if you don’t have a cell to incarcerate him. Solutions must be home grown and environmental factors to correct must also be local. While there are general applications that can be used, the qualifying methods must have ingredients that will apprehend, convict, incarcerate, correct and rehabilitate.
    This is why crime fighting approach must be comprehensive and not knee-jerk.

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