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Obfuscating the Crime Pandemic
Posted: Friday, August 8, 2003

By Stephen Kangal

The current escalating crime pandemic that is insidiously devastating and eroding the national psyche threatens not only the tenuous fabric of our cosmopolitanism but also the continuing integrity of our Westminster democracy. Obscenely rewarded spin-doctors and pseudo- communications specialists have now commandeered and monopolize the mass media to obfuscate and side-track the root causes of the inhumane monstrosities that now hold Trinbago under constant siege to justify the largesse dispensed by their political paymasters.

T&T today has fallen innocent prey to the physically strong, the parasitic clique amongst us who are comfortable with and callously enjoying other people's confiscated property as well as to the lawless and the illegally- armed. These vultures employ naked aggression and superior force as instruments to deprive Trinbagonians of their rights to life, liberty and of the quiet enjoyment of the hard owned property using the most brutal, shameless and inhumane practice of the tenets of jungle justice. Perhaps the Hindu doctrine of Karma (cause and effect) and the Shanti philosophy (immortalised in soca by the late Lord Shorty) might be introduced into the religious studies curriculum of our schools to stem the rising tide of potential bandits and criminals appropriating another's money and property with impunity.

Those who have been precepted with the requisite powers for the legitimate use of force in defence of the weak and the law-abiding majority have virtually abdicated their responsibilities. They are trying in the most pathetic manner to deflect the penchant for criminality to the doorstep of the single parent families traditionally headed by so many dedicated mothers. They demonstrate a bankruptcy- a pathological inability and unwillingness to effectively stem the tide of criminality in a domain of 1864 square miles and 1 million besieged souls. Some invoke the prayer medium when human solutions have failed them.

The result is a de facto collapse of law and order in Trinbago even though we sustain a relatively huge and astronomical bill for national security. We are being told that almost 500 criminal minded vultures are more and better equipped than 5,000 police men, thousands of Defence Force and private security personnel and millions disbursed annually on conventional security infrastructure.

The POS Chamber of Commerce/DOMA is now hell bent on hugging and configuring the contours of the contingency response. Their priority must surely be the protection of corporate property and interests while the priorities of the rest of our democracy can be subordinated. Their focus must be on the urban suburban East –West Corridor that coincides with priorities of the ruling elite. This is being played out while public perception is strong that some of the CIC members have and continue to amass huge empires via the illicit drug trade. The CIC is now pontificating to the dispossessed natives on the fundamentals of law and order while being insulated and protected in their impregnable citadels by danes and dobermen concealed behind electronic gates, moats and draw-bridges nestling in Goodwood Park and Bayshore.

Such is the degree of duplicitity/ lack of credibility that is at the heart of the social meltdown that threatens the continuing integrity and economic viability of 21st Century Trinbago. What other message one can reasonably deduce after two days of urgent talks commandeered at White Hall that on the third day results in another crime plan? Can this politically ever be correct?

The rest of the population victims of the most inhumane atrocities is only important for exploitation on election day. The Chamber calls the shots and fashions the social agenda.

Deosaran's proposed Crime Commission is just an another UWI-hatched institutional irrelevance. The solutions to the crime epidemic cannot be another layer of expensive institutional building. Capacity building must be the heart of the response mechanisms. Crime is principally if not exclusively the result of a poorly- motivated, non-performing, don't care a damn, poor-work-ethic driven police service that would appear to be tainted and corrupt to the core. The problem in the Police Service is an attitudinal/ performance-based one that must be altered by radically modern and functional recruiting procedures and criteria that takes into full account the human wealth and endowment endemic in our cosmopolitanism including expanding the geographical catchment area outside of the East-West Corridor. Affirmative action pioneered by Lord Scarman in Britain is needed now. The protective services cannot be a glorified URP.

The simple crux of the crime menace is that potential criminals are convinced that they can break the law with impunity or with the collusion of the corrupt cadre of police officers that has infiltrated the protective services via the worst manifestations of discrimination and/or nepotism.

Mobility has always hindered the efficiency of the Service. New vehicles are vandalised and grounded. Police Stations are derelict are in a state of virtual collapse.

Adopting and placing a high premium on the legislative response exclusively and attempting to score political points without being complemented and reinforced by the detection-arrest response is spinning top in the proverbial mud.

Concentrating the policing infrastructure to the political exclusion of the rest of Trinbago in the East West-Corridor is according priority to ethnicity, geography and divisive partisan politics.

While there might be some validity in focussing on the social conditions that incubate criminality the Police Service must be subjected to the closest public scrutiny. A Public Inquiry/Hearings into all aspects of the Police Service with a view to achieving a complete over-haul of the administration, recruitment and day-to-day functioning of the Service to be undertaken by reputable, independent foreign experts must be initiated.

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