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Blimp of Crime 05
Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2006

By Philip Ayoung-Chee FRCS

It is the time of the year for year-end reviews. It is also the time for paranoid statements of senior political/government officials, as had happened towards the end of 2002, 2003 and 2004. blimp

The year-end reviews, as expectedly released in December, stated that there is an escalating and serious crime problem in Trinidad and Tobago. blimp

The officials, including their leader, were highly critical of the timing of the reviews. They all stated that the timing of the year-end reviews was geared towards discouraging visitors with bad publicity for the Carnival season. Maybe the right time of release for the year-end review is June and not December. blimp

At the beginning of one year, the Administration was so incensed that three political officials were sent to London, Washington and New York to do damage control. One interview was even aired internationally on BBC News. blimp

The crime statistics however told a different story. In almost all categories, figures are increasing with very low arrest rates. Statements from these officials were astounding. "crime is temporary'; "that murder was co-lateral damage"; " I am not worried until the level of crime equals that of New York"; " crime is politically motivated"; blimp

Following a bombing incident, about three hours later, a helicopter was landed virtually next to the site, in a dust filled burnt-out premises. This created a dust problem, contaminating the crime scene. When questioned, a senior police official stated that enough evidence was already collected. When questioned about contaminating the site with debris from an external source by the blades of the helicopter, the senior official reply on television was that he intended to ensure that "no stone was left unturned in this investigation". The site investigation continued for more than three days. blimp

In the fight against crime, a blimp was purchased for monitoring purposes. This is the same type of blimp that is used for advertising purposes and also to give aerial pictures of major events. Immediately after being purchased, there was a big drug bust down-the-islands. A Cabinet official immediately bared his chest to state that the blimp is working. And then every arm of the national security services, including special police units, claimed credit. Eventually it was a tip-off received at a Police Station that led to the bust. And for a long period, the blimp was non-functional. We now hear that a runway is required for the blimp. And when questioned about the non-function of the blimp since it was grounded, a political official stated that it is possible for the blimp to continue functioning whilst on the ground. A 'blimp' statement with an added Blimp 11. blimp

At the end of 2004, a year-end review of Trinidad and Tobago in a foreign newspaper focused on the crime situation. A political official became incensed and ranted and raved. He questioned the timing of the article, just before Carnival. He even demanded an apology. Later in the year he proudly displayed a British newspaper headline which stated that they also had a problem with crime. So no problem in T&T!! And with crime levels rising, he is described as one of the best performing political officials. blimp

This is compounded by the lack of concern of the political directorate. In spite of the escalating crime, the Minister of National Security is not asked to resign. Instead he is described as the best performing. And another Minister is not too concerned about crime, for despite crime, he proudly announces that more visitors are recorded as arriving into T&T. blimp

Compare this to the Health Minister of France. After dealing with the effects of the heat wave on the health system and the deaths of many citizens, especially senior citizens, the Health Minister resigned after the summer season, personally accepting blame. In "Vision 2020" T&T however, the Health Minister will ask the wanting question, who caused the heat wave and who should be blamed? blimp

But the best for the last. The opposition is blamed for their non-cooperation as contributing to crime. They all finally agreed to pass legislation giving no-bail for alleged-kidnappers for a period of sixty-days. A dangerous piece of legislation, especially for a country where bad-mind rules the roost and time is of no-essence. And to see a political/law official, proud as a peacock, beating his chest in Parliament, stating that we are going to come after you. But did anyone notice that there has been virtually no arrest of any kidnappers. Is this legislation going to result in a sudden flood of arrests? And mere hours after, more kidnappings take place. blimp

Our crime situation must be compared with that of Boston, with a population of 600,000; where murders have increased from 32 in 1999 to 71 for 2005. This is a ratio of 11.8 per 100,000 compared to 28.8 per 100,000 for T&T. Whilst Boston officials are concerned; T&T officials are not. blimp

And for the New Year, crime has to be given priority. This has to be addressed in the context that there must be adequate provision within the sectors of health, education and agriculture, the basis of development. But then what is the priority and more importantly, are the political officials concerned? blimp

But seriously, for 2006, crime must be on the front burner ... ... ... blimp

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