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Should PM call a State of Emergency?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Gary Griffith is the new Police Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago and I support him 100 per cent. But he is entering the job at a time where crime is totally out of control and it will take some time for his measures to have a positive effect. Crime is complex and there is no easy solution. The murder rate in T&T has burgeoned and the citizens and the media have been fixated on one topic: violent crime. And rightly so.

Murders continue to soar and the detection rate is poor, which means criminals are getting away with murder. You can burn someone’s house down and walk the streets the next day or go and have a beer in a bar and “knock some pool,” with absolutely no fear of being arrested. The murder conviction rate in this country seems to be steadily declining as criminals continue to operate with impunity.

The city of New York has an estimated population of ten million and their murder rate for 2017 was 290 murders. Our murder rate for 2017 was 494 and it currently stands at 318 as of August 4, 2018, with a population of just over 1.3 million. This is an alarming statistic and cause for serious concern.

Based on these statistics alone, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley should announce a State of Emergency for Trinidad and Tobago, because crime is clearly out of control and rising sharply and many are living in fear for their lives. The State of Emergency should be a joint police/military strategy with troops being deployed where crime is the worst. We have put up with crime far too long, to the point that people have become desensitised to it. It has become a normal part of our culture. This is frightening.

A “zero tolerance” approach must be implemented, ensuring that various types of businesses be closed by certain times. Under the State Of Emergency, members of the security forces must be empowered to stop and search individuals on the street, search places and arrest criminals without a warrant and curtail the operating hours of businesses. In addition, motorists using roads will be subject to regular vehicle and personal searches. Citizens must be urged to assist in the search for weapons and wanted murderers and rapists.

Crime is getting out of hand and “firm and resolute measures” must be immediately implemented to curb crime. The measures taken by the Government must be within the context of the law and human rights must be preserved and respected. The promising future of Trinidad and Tobago looks bleak as crime threatens to destabilise this nation.

There is growing agitation, hopelessness, anxiety and impatience among citizens, opposition politicians and the private sector over this deplorable crime situation that keeps getting worse every day. Many people can give stories of frightening experiences of being robbed at gunpoint or losing a loved one to murder. There is an apparent normalisation of crime in T&T. There is also a new trend of people being gunned down in cases of mistaken identity. Will the PM call a State of Emergency?



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