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21st century bellyaching
Trinidadians rarely have an opportunity to critically analyse the issues pertinent to crime and policing given the steady stream of “tantana” titillating the public. This is compounded by a propensity towards being hopelessly obtuse.
I hate to say it, but the Guardian newspaper has been the only publication consistently airing the very important impressions of the Commissioner of Police and his deputy about the crippling deficiencies of the Police Service. It’s a hard sell given what people seem more energised by: the weekly bullhorn call, from the Opposition come right down to the Police Social and Welfare Association, for the commissioner to resign
I must however disagree strongly with an assertion contained in a Guardian editorial which suggested, “Part of the process of implementing the 21st-century initiative should have been to win support from the personnel who have to carry it out.” It is unreasonable to expect that the very individuals whose lives are comforted by the culture of sloth and corruption in the Police Service are going to happily become standard bearers in the very movement meant to eliminate that way of life.
“Nothing surprises me anymore…” Deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski opined to the Guardian in reaction to the threat of an injunction in the High Court by the police association. I would be surprised if he were surprised given the extreme opposition that these Canuck “interlopers” have encountered at every step.
The association served the commissioner with a pre-action protocol letter indicating, among other things, that “members had not agreed to any variation in their terms and conditions, and that any agreement was limited to the project in the Western Division, which had run its course.”
This is in reference to the 21st century policing concept which used the Western Division as a model station. Now this sort of stupidity is deeply embarrassing in the presence of guests in our country as it suggests the strategy, meant to change the way policing is done here, is more akin to a flu that must run its course so that police officers can get back to doing what they do best, which is avoiding your calls.
So the police association would have us all believe that it only agreed to 21st century policing in the context of a temporary measure. At the heart of this issue are two things—laziness and money. The police association has perceived the changes as an infringement on the rights of police officers and an imposition of longer working hours.
Naturally, this is a flawed reading of the proposed realignment of the force. Officers had grown accustomed to claiming overtime for sleeping in the police station while bandit jumpin’ fences across the country. It is very difficult for Gibbs to accept that a police station in this jokey place really functions as a hotel and not a base of operations. Perhaps aging police stations should have been maintained in their decrepit states to motivate officers to get out in the sun once in a while.
The association seems to have a problem with that as well. “Police drivers have to drive for more than four hours without being allowed to rest, and this violates regulations and international best practice.” Again we are seeing dogged resistance to one of the more basic tenets of policing—patrolling our streets, highways and communities.
There is no way that this aspect of 21st century policing could possibly envision officers, driving for four hours straight, fumbling at the wheel while peeing in a water bottle. What it does mean though is that officers will not be able to while away the morning trying to get the woman constables all hot and bothered, take two hours to eat a big roti “out de road” and then duck report-takin’ until quittin’ time.
Even more objectionable, I suppose, is the idea of installing GPS systems in police vehicles to monitor just how much time units in the fleet spend (a) on the road on patrol, (b) in front de outside woman house, (c) in the grocery “just picking up a few things.”
All of the measures being forced upon the service like worming tablets down a dog’s throat are not new, they are just new to us. All of us, though, have agreed that an increased police presence is pivotal to making a dent in our unacceptable crime rates.
Given that the association is primarily preoccupied with remuneration for police officers, it might find that the public would be more sympathetic to demands for improved benefits (free health care and all) if it was felt that the officers actually earned them.
Instead, we persist with the only thing we excel at—complaining and bellyaching ad infinitum when presented with workable solutions that demand actual work. Mr Gibbs, welcome to 21st century bellyaching.
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