Clueless on crime

By Raffique Shah
December 16, 2016

Raffique ShahA tragedy of our time is when we are outraged by the gore of one of the daily dosages of murder, we erupt into a cacophony of protest, condemnation and cries for the return of the hangman, such expressions lasting no longer than the proverbial sno-cone in the midday sun.

I predict that before the dirt settles on Shannon Banfield’s grave, seasonal parang music, alcohol and black cake will numb the senses of all but her loved ones whose pain will, understandably, last forever. And an avalanche of Carnival-related activities will further distract us from the atrocities that are committed daily on the killing fields of Trinidad more than Tobago.

We have been through this charade time and again, sounding off following some particularly gruesome murder, crying out for the police, the government, the authorities, to deliver us from the evil that has taken control of our country.

Remember Stephen Cadiz and the Keith Noel protests, circa 2005-2007? Remember Akiel Chambers, Sean Luke, and the female Japanese pannist whose corpse was found in the Savannah on Ash Wednesday this year?

Rah, rah, rah, we roared, demanding action against their killers, who, along with a few thousand other murderers, walk the streets free to this day, thanks to the zero detection rate by the police. In fact, there might well be some such killers attending the vigils and protests for victim Shannon.

We fail to understand that the politicians are clueless when it comes to fighting crime, with plans from Chin Lee’s anaconda to Edmund Dillon’s “architecture” and everything in between being empty rhetoric, words intended to impress us, have us believe they are on to something, when in fact they do squat. Every minister who held the national security portfolio over the past 30 years has failed, if success is measured by their ability to secure the nation from elements bent on making citizens’ lives a living hell.

If the politicians are failures, the police are a disaster. Governments have spent billions of dollars on boosting the Police Service—new vehicles, new stations, high-tech equipment, special units armed as if they are going to war, bullet-proof vests and more. They are the only public service employees who receive tax-free allowances on top of their salaries.

They now have speed guns, CCTV cameras, the right to monitor people’s telephone conversations and email exchanges, forensic equipment and, presumably, access to DNA technology. With all these tools and incentives in their hands, their detection rate for murders remains an abysmal ten per cent, the conviction rate maybe one per cent, and their intelligence-gathering zero.

Look, a hundred years ago (in technology time), in 1954, Superintendent Leslie Slater cracked the near-perfect murder using rudimentary if not archaic tools. Dr Dalip Singh murdered his German wife Inge at their St Clair home. He gutted her body, put it in a bag, drove all the way to the Godineau River in south, and dumped it in the sea.

The corpse unexpectedly floated, was seen by some crab-catchers, and Slater took charge of the investigations. It was the wily Dr Singh against a well-trained detective, and in the end, Slater secured a conviction. Dalip Singh was hanged in 1955.

One year later, this country’s most notorious pirate, murderer and gangster, Boysie Singh, who had beaten two earlier murder raps (witnesses disappeared!), was convicted for the murder of nightclub dancer Thelma Haynes. What made that case unique is the corpse was never found. And like the Inge Singh murder, there were no eye-see witnesses, although Boysie’s co-accused, Boland Ramkissoon, took the investigators on wild goose chases based on dreams he said he had.

As a result of diligent police work (Slater may have been involved), Boysie and Boland were convicted, and hanged in 1957.

The third case I cite to illustrate the quality of the detectives we had then against what we have now is that of serial rapist-murderer Samuel Jacob, nicknamed The Black Archer. He stalked “lovers’ lanes” in the East in the early 1960s, and was suspected of having committed several murders. Painstaking investigations eventually paid off when a female victim survived a brutal attack (her male companion was killed) and identified Jacob at an ID parade. The police case was convincing. Jacob was found guilty and hanged.

Detectives in that era were professionally trained and dedicated to solving crimes. They walked the beat, rode bicycles, travelled by taxi or bus, went undercover and spent long days and nights conducting investigations.

Today, the police—and the public—see video footage of murders being committed, but they do not even arrest the perpetrators, far less charge them and secure convictions.

Today’s police officers ride new vehicles in air-conditioned comfort, seeing nothing and hearing less. Real, dogged police work is alien to them—which is one, but not the only, reason why we are doomed to counting bodies and mounting vigils for the foreseeable future.

6 Responses to “Clueless on crime”


  • Murders, robberies, and various crimes will continue to haunt the nation. The real problem is the abssymal police record in securing conviction and putting criminals behind bars. Case in question was the Vindra murder were all and sundry was acquitted citing shoddy police work. In most part of the world the DPP would have been “reassigned” for this colossal failure.

    There was a time in New York City when gangs controlled certain areas, police feared entering those areas. Today that is unheard of. Yes societies do change and get better because of the natural laws of progression. The law of progression means that there is a history of tried and failed initiatives, those initiatives form the basis historical review as to best practices. Essentially what did not work yesterday is no longer employed today. Rather new approaches is used to achieve better results.

    Using the SoE as an example, what was learned? And how can that knowlege be put to good use well into the future. What initiatives can be avoided? Is there an information booklet available in the police archives?

    Fighting crime is a spiritual as well as a psychological battle. A thief or criminal is a spiritually weak person who has surrendered his will to the impulses of evil. Psychologically crime is viewed as necessary for survival. To counter such things education in schools and at home most focus on the building better citizenry. Yes we can train dogs which are dumb animals to do a lot of good things, so don’t think that humans can’t change. The future is still in the school bags.

    Under Panday rapid response was formed, it was expensive but useful because the citizenry would call for the police and they would show up 2 hours later, totally unacceptable. Rapid response slowed down the criminal elements because there were well armed and trained police officer not too far away. Another good example was the AKS which became corrupted, no equipment plus police officers negotiating with the criminal elements for bigger ransom payout. Hopefully that has been sanitized, the proof really is results.

    Yes all the components for an effective police force has been tried. Time to revisit some of these..over and out.

  • I have said it many times on this blogsite. Raffique Shah is a trained military officer who should be recruited to serve the nation as either Minister or advisor in the fight against crime.
    He has repeatedly analysed the problem and offered solutions and many believe that he would be honest, effective and unyielding in a targeted crime fighting capacity.

  • Well written and thought out article by Raff and supporting arguments from Mammoo and TMan. I believe the stats I last seen was over 80% of crime in T&T remains un-solved. I never saw any stats as to leads going cold under the purview of the police; with time as an important parameter. How much crime is contributed by the police on this small island of ours? I say this because I personally know of specific incidents of police files ‘classified as missing’ prior to court cases at 3 police stations in particular: Mon Repos, Princess Town and St. Joseph. For those dedicated officers who get their cases coming through the court system have their confidence becomes un-raveled when they do see the culprits getting off with a slap on the wrist. Don’t we at the same time see the big wigs can do what they want and the small fry get stewed in the court system. A precedent was set by Patrick Solomon. This comes down to culture and morality. Burroughs would be classified as a crime buster only to have his brother in law Dole Chadee getting away scotch free with heinous crimes until he (Dole) met his destiny eventually and for the New York Times to publish a scathing attack on our police system and not our local media at that time. For a former Attorney General be slaughtered in his driveway and no arrests to this day speaks volumes.

  • I am yet to hear or see a sensible approach to crime in this country. The main problem is that there is no coherent approach to the scourge of criminal behavior. There are a few myths that must be discouraged before attempting to be serious about minimizing the effects of crime:

    1. Politicians CANNOT and MUST NOT be allowed to fight crime.
    2. CRIME IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. IT IS A SAFETY ISSUE.
    3. Stressing statistical deviations on the level of crime
    helps no one.
    4. The use of party politics to say who is better than who
    does not help solve crime nor does it favor a party better.

    The entity that is TOTALLY responsible for fighting crime is the
    POLICE SERVICE and the person accountable is the Commissioner Of Police. Much has been said about a crime plan. What exactly does that mean and what is the use of crime plans if the end game is to show a statistic that appears to be reasonable? The aim of crime should not just be to lower the numbers but to create an environment that discourages crime and encourages hope of a better life among people who are pre-disposed to commit them.
    There are many things that can be done:
    1. Appoint a credible permanent Commissioner of Police
    2. Provide equipment and effective training
    3. Enhance diversity skills for members of the service
    4. Involve social agencies in the development of youths
    5. Provide skills training for prisoners
    6. Look to psychology as a means to combating crime
    7. Provide a cohesive policy with the prosecutors,
    judiciary, social agencies, prison, rehabilitation
    and support agencies
    8. Employ social scientists who are adept in human
    development
    9. Get rid of the Police Service Commission

    Creation and sustenance of #9 only serves on political objectives. Thought the years there is no track record to show that the Commission has been effective in either choosing the best candidate, nor has it shown any real urgency in acceding to the will of the people in providing us with a good person to head the Police service. It is very obvious that they are more concerned in fulfilling political objectives than eradicating the scourge of crime. The Administration of the Police Service should be in the hands of people who are not directed by political entities.

    A council of social elders should be created to work with social groups intent on guiding young people to a crime free life. There is nothing like the promise of hope in the life of a young person and elderly guidance in that direction can be a source of respect for both old and young.

    Dr. Rowley has shown that he wants to re-direct the course of criminal behavior. He has made strides to ensure the selection of a permanent Commissioner but the Leader of the Opposition would have none of it. The current commissioners were elected by the Opposition, so it stands to reason that the commissioners allegiance and support may not be towards the government but fulfilling the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition, who does not necessarily want a permanent commissioner.

    The greatest obstruction to the fight against crime is the ensuing politics. No one has shown honest efforts to make sure the best people are chosen for prominent positions within the Police Service. KEEP POLITICS OUT OF CRIME!!!!!

  • Nice article Uncle Shah, but though well intentioned , perhaps a not too correct headline. I’m not too certain, that our Police, and Politicians ,are clueless as claimed , re seemingly out of control crimes. Something else is at play,and astute guy that I am ,let me indulge folks a bit ,as to what is at play:-
    1. When we have laws on our books , stipulating the age that folks can marry,and yet a certain segment of our society , while hiding behind ancient culture, and opaque religious ideologies , choose to give the middle finger ,to our laws, by instead forcing girls as young as 9, 10 11, 12, 14 , and 16 ,to share a matrimonial bed , with males , old enough to be their Papas, yet pay no price , then such ain’t clueless.
    If our conniving Politicians ,refuse to address the dire situation ,for 54 years, and now that the subject is in the limelight,due in great measure , to the efforts of our CJ, Mr Archie, that’s not clueless, but pandering to a tribe , for fear of the electoral backlash.
    Sorry Kamla ,but what de hell do we care if in your typical media posturing , you claimed that recently murdered ,20 year old Shannonn Bandfield , could be your daughter, if you as the country’s first female PM ,you don’t give a hoot, about thousands of other young, chiefly poor , desperate girls , and boys, who cannot grow into adulthood, but are sexually , and physically abused daily, deprived of meaningful education,and are forced to make babies , thus wrecking havoc on their fragile , undeveloped bodies?
    As for the self serving clowns , that call themselves NGO activists , that likewise ,enjoy pretending they care , even as they remain silent ,in the face of this, and similar monstrosities – such as barbarian Corporal punishment? Take a look to see how grown folks , become relevant , in their quest to be difference makers.
    Thanks Dr Desmond Tutu, for leading the way re your partnership with progressive movements, such as ‘girls not marriage.’

    https://www.ft.com/content/8a197252-a483-11e6-8898-79a99e2a4de6?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral

    2. When a wealthy car salesman , and real estate bloke , can marry a poor ,underaged female , than continue to abuse her over time – which she accepts in docile silence, then one day she takes to social media ,to make her case, thus prompting the law enforcement authorities bodies to step in, only to find their efforts thwarted , at every juncture, and when the bastard is about to pay a price via jail time , she the victim , suddenly decides , he is the best husband on the planet, since in her twisted thinking ,she might loose all that he inherited,and they both allegedly build , since she was 14, then that ain’t clueless policing .

    3. When a crooked politician turn PM , engaged with a former CJ, to impede justice, then when caught , resort to anti police ,fake victimization cries , or used their huge financial cache , to plea their case before bias , intimidated Judicial elites, to stay out of prison ,trust me when I say -that ain’t clueless about crime, but something else.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,40835.html

    4. When the deaths of thousands of chiefly females,and innocent kids , are glossed over , and ignored ,as mere suicides , then justice is never served , but that’s not because our law enforcement blokes , are incompetent , untrained, un professional, or clueless about crimes , per se. There are other reasons, trust me on that.
    5. When White color bandits ,such as CLICO Duprey,and HCU Harie Harinarine,get’s free passes, as millions of hard earned shareholders, and pensioners dollars are lost,only to have one claim ,he should be free,because he used some of de stolen dough ,to educate a certain PM 2 daughters, while the other claimed ,he should not go to jail ,since he too gave sweet heart deals to party members of an opposing tribe , then that’s not clueless,especially if 98& of Blue color bums, caught with 2 sticks of weed, or failure to pay their T&TEC bills, or Child support , are languishing in jail.
    6. When the Coast Guard sends dedicated folks to be trained , after a certain regime decided to purchase 3 border patrolling ships , only to have that deal scuttled ,by a succeeding government – for their own twisted reason, it ain’t clueless . When an ex Coast Guard middle manager , instead of going on the war part to denounce this foolishness,but instead , gladly accepts the position as Minister of National Security in a succeeding government, only to still see ,thousands of illegal aliens , deadly drugs,and dangerous weapons , enter our porous borders , while the cadaver laden ,body bags numbers increase,then that ain’t clueless, but something else.
    Not for me to beat a dead horse,(as we like to say on de streets) but I think I made my case here- Neither the Police, Politicians, and least we forget, Religious leaders, DPP,overall legal fraternity, murdering negligent Doctors,NGO’s , and greedy businessmen,are clueless about crimes , or how to solve same. Other factors are at play. Oh, and by the way , in case there are those who wish to look at the players highlighted here ,in my list,and try to make a claim that I am only pointing fingers,at one tribe ? Give it a rest, for part of the problems in T&T is, that not enough emphasis is made to ensure all criminals, receive the same scrutinies.All I am doing to broadening the scope/ present a different perspective.
    7.If an AG kids are seen frolicking with deadly guns , under the watchful eyes of adults, professional Soldiers, that ain’t criminal, but high negligence , or more so, plain stupidity ,in this Social media era.
    When an AG in contrast, imported four British made , 10 million dollars , a pop Range Rovers , on an MP,s salary, over 3 years in political office, or tried to investigate himself,in efforts to cover up an ugly, financial / judicial abuse scheme , called Prisongate, that’s criminal- especially if a high end , popular respected , legal luminary , called Dana Setahal ,lost her life , somewhere in the mix.
    Why he ain’t languishing in jail, but instead ,is still getting fat and rich ,billing high profile clients , in idiot lawsuits , is a different story, of which most aren’t clueless.
    8. If a certain AG ,whose client was his own PM , made his bones over the decades ,as a strident anti Capital Punishment, legal big don, then once he is a government minister , gave the green light ,to hang a big wig criminal, who so happened to be one of his former clients, with enough info- some say – to bury him , that ain’t clueless either.
    When said AG, has another big wig client , who happened to be a 1990 , pro Islamist Coup leader, and said AG ,it’s alleged , so happened to be on vacation, in de Spice isle , during such Coup, then served for 5 years as AG , while doing nothing of consequence ,to see the criminal bastard pay a price ,for his criminal misdeeds, then we should not be surprise that crime has gone out of hand today
    9. When in 1970 , two British SandHurst Coup School trained blokes ,committed ….. on their country….. and a similarly trained Nigerian ,is brought in to adjudicate , only to have both guys walk free ,due to de actions of the conniving British, and their Privy Council ruling, not sure we can say our Police , or worst yet,Politicians ,are clueless about crimes, Uncle Shah.
    We know what would have occurred ,if those two nameless , idealistic Soldiers , had committed such acts ,in say ,either Nigeria, or Britain ,si?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7AQcUTRUu4

    You see Uncle Shah ,to get nostalgic like you , part of the problem is that fearless guys like Chalkie ,back then ,could sing about any subject they deemed fit ,but fast forward to modern times , we have high end Soca Brads , in the pockets of politicians , who won’t touch any contentious subjects , even if you threatened to grab his Mama ,and ship her to Jupiter .
    Let me see, 5 Road March, and Soca Monarch Wins between 2010 , and 15, en route to making what $60 millions plus, over that period? Not bad Mr Double M/ Marshall Mantano.
    Hey Iwah George , de Valsayn South ,big 15 room Mansion looks great., Yep you “started at de bottom ,and now we here ,” just like Canadian top tier Rapper Drake , ehhhhhh?
    When I left my T&T ,we had one Television,and 2 Radio stations , now we have 200 each ,including yours, and yet our citizens ,are less informed , due to the stupid , repeated , boorish escapism , they are force fed daily.
    Yeah , we get it Kartel made a baby while in prison, Nikita Maharaj , had more boobs/butt implants, Marshall, and Bunji competing for Grammys, maybe not RoadMarch.
    What a sick tragedy!
    As I said , nice idea, but wrong headline, Uncle Shah.
    Excellent piece nevertheless. Always though provoking , one should add.
    I remain optimistic.
    Stay Vigilant T&T!

  • I guess when T & T are the beneficiaries of US Tax EVASION, I can see your point of view “Not my problem man”!!!

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