Crime and rewards

By Raffique Shah
November 21, 2023

Raffique ShahI thought, not hard and for long, I need add, but for long enough to determine, well, if Police Commissioner Erla Christopher could fire the first round of heavy artillery that had the effect of jolting her audience into full alert, which is not normally associated with this “Commish”, or most of her predecessors, coming to think of it, and even better for the sake of argument or a bout of Trini “bacchanal” one Sandhurst-trained Gary Griffith, who responded with a “spray” of machine gun fire that rivalled the ongoing attacks on The Gaza…

The topic? Parenting and crime. What I found funny, what tickled me, is that Gary did not, in an overall sense, disagree with her. In his salvo, he repeated for the umpteenth time that when he was commissioner, crime was substantially reduced, especially murders which in T&T equals crime.

Matters not that a high percentage of the murders is gang-related, that the criminals are doing what the public and the police should be doing, which is reducing, not just with illegal guns in their hands, but thinning their ranks.

From another perspective, if we all sit back, mind and guard our business—our homes, our cash and the lives of our families—I don’t think that murders will go up or down significantly. So, policing and parenting are both useful, maybe even critical in our fight against crime.

I argue, though, as I have done above, that if we do nothing, I don’t know that we’d become a Haiti, where gunmen and gangs virtually run the country. But that’s arguable as are most points: the Commish and ex-Commish, if given the power and media space to so do, will go at each other for a year and still not run out of ammo, and the gangs would still be there carrying out their murder and mayhem madness.

If we examine parenting and its impact on crime, we have to go back to my time as a parent, which is 40 years ago. The divide between parents who cared about what they produced and nurtured and those who gave damn—all will tend to favour my generation, meaning that we’d do a better job from which generations to come should benefit. But somehow, somewhere, many parents lost interest in the calibre of children they produced.

Under my watch, for example, Rosina and I had decided early o’clock what we expected of the two we produced, one boy, one girl. In spite of circumstances—she resigned her job in the service for personal reasons, and me because of my involvement in politics, I did not have a steady income, we could not pursue our goals as we had intended to.

I should add, with respect to the above, that I suffered victimisation and I’m sure my children experienced some of that, too. But my attitude towards these obstacles was to take them head-on, do battle, and win.

In my extended family, the brighter ones got solid secondary education which, mind you, was not free, but parents made the sacrifices necessary to afford the younger ones a fair chance and better opportunities in life. While I, and other parents at that time, paid full price for our children’s tertiary education, secondary education was free. Soon after, in the 2000s, tertiary education became free to all who wished to pursue.

Opportunities were available to everyone to better themselves. However, some parents decided joining gangs was the way their children would move up in life, and if some parents couldn’t care less what their children did when they got older, how does a government alter that course? They already gave you the blueprint; all you had to do was use it.

And, while the delinquent parents supplied the crime chain with career criminals, too many police officers found the road to riches more attractive than what they are being paid for by the hard-working middle class taxpayers.

I trust that Gary and Commissioner Erla Christopher see there is no need for them to go to war over an argument that will never be resolved with empty talk. I have shown here that crime and criminals will continue to flourish, not to add rampage through the country for as long as people of standing in the society, waste time by talking nonsense while continuing to ignore the root causes of crime.

We can attack them with a combination of education, and the powers of the institutions charged with upholding law and order, and the use of citizens who have a moral responsibility to be part of this fight whether they are paid to or not.

While adequate compensation is desirable, criminals do not strike or take vacations. Keep that in mind the next time you want to talk nonsense.