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Alfonso: Drastic action has to be taken
Maharaj: No crime plan... T&T a killing field
Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj feels the country has been transformed into a “killing field” as criminals are no longer afraid of the Government, while law abiding citizens have become prisoners in their homes.
Maharaj expressed similar sentiments to Alfonso that T&T was facing a national crisis and that drastic action is needed to deal with the situation. He said the 33 months the Government has been in office they seem not to have a crime plan.
A successful crime plan would involve detection, which Maharaj said, was way too low. “Any person not being detected is an encouragement for criminals to do what they want.” Maharaj said the Government had neglected improving the capabilities of the police, while there was no aggressive machinery to assist the Director of Public Prosecutions in prosecuting people.
“The Government has been denying the office of the DPP the necessary resources to deal with that problem,” he claimed. Feared by the criminals when he served as AG, Maharaj said he pursued all law breakers in a holistic way. “I instituted measures to catch and prosecute the criminals, and if necessary, to have them executed.”
Maharaj said the disbanding of SAUTT saw many police officers who were trained to detect crime being sent home, while SRPs who have little or no experience were brought into the service. Also the cancellation of the OPVs, which was the machinery to prevent the guns and drug from entering our borders was another error.
Asked if another SoE will allay the fears of citizens, Maharaj replied. “That is the wrong road. That will be an admission of failure.” What is needed, Maharaj said, is willpower, expertise, management, proper leadership and dedication, not rhetoric. “The Prime Minister needs to take full responsibility for the massacre that is happening currently. This is the same Government that told the people that crime will be a thing of the past.”
Maharaj will speak at a press conference on Tuesday to discuss rising crime and the PP’s poor governance.
Panday: We hunted the big fish
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday boasted that when his government was in office, crime was at its lowest with less resources, manpower and finances. He said his government worked with a plan and had the capacity to effectively manage it. “I think this Government lacks both of these things.”
Panday what is needed is a multi-faceted approach to tackle crime. The implementation of jobs, educational and social programmes and eliminating the country’s drug lords were some of the strategies Panday had instituted. “The records will show that we dealt with them (drug barons) in a serious way. We hunted the big fish.”
Panday said the hangings of Dole Chadee and his accomplices and the extradition of Zimmern Beharry, who faced charges arising out of international drug trafficking, stopped the criminals in their tracks.
Subero—It’s hard to regain people’s trust
Keith Subero, former general manager of Crime Stoppers, described the escalating crime rate as “frightening.” While Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson made an appeal to the public to join them in the crime fight, a method which Crime Stopper had initiated years ago, Subero said this required citizens to have a certain amount of confidence in the police service.
Noting that citizens had lost all faith in the service, Subero said it will be hard to regain the people’s trust. Meanwhile, Crime Stoppers general manager Garland Samuel said they received hundreds of calls and on-line tips monthly from anonymous people giving information on criminal activity. In the coming weeks, Samuel said, a number of initiatives will be unveiled.
Ramesar: Police demotivated, not taken seriously
Sgt Anand Ramesar, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association, who said several issues have been affecting the T&T Police Service (TTPS), claimed the most nagging was lack of promotions, which the Police Service Commission has failed to address.
“The police officers from a psychological level are not motivated coming out of the inaction of the challenges faced. What we have is too many short term strategies that cannot measure results and treat with crime holistically. We have a lot of issues with police officers’ techniques and practices.” Ramesar said the officers’ mandate needs to be recalibrated.
“We are not seeing scientific studies, proper planning and strategic actions plans that are backed by proper research.” The TTPS has a total of 8,000 officers. Ramesar said the service lacked synergy and networking. “What we need first and foremost is to deal with the human resource; the policeman himself. The culture change. You have quantity but not quality.”
While admitting the service has been faced with a crime detection problem, Ramesar said unless officers are taken seriously nothing will change.
Analyst: Govt has failed to deliver on crime
Political analyst Dr Winford James said having fought the 2010 general election on the promise of reducing crime, the Government has failed to deliver which could affect them in the next general election. One bad decision the PP made, James said, was the SoE, which turned out to be a failure and “dread mistake.”
James said flushing out the gangs would be National Security Minister Jack Warner’s biggest headache. “The problem will not be solved by police presence alone,” James said, as he pleaded with the Government to urgently address socio economic issues plaguing depressed communities.
In Morvant/Laventille, where there are high concentration of gangs, James said, belies a bigger problem—age-old socio economic distress which is passed from one generation to the next.
“Part of the problem is linked to the communities closeness to the capital city, which is surrounded by a lot of economic activity, that is not filtered down. These constituencies have been faithful to the PNM for years with the PNM not being able to implement structural development.”
The development should be comparable to other communities to improve the residents’ standard of living. Should the Government ignore this, James said, this will put future generations in a rut. “If this (development) is not done we will see more and more of the same.” James said giving residents Cepep and URP jobs has led to a tragic state of violence and bloodshed.
He said while Warner has the right ideas, his attitude leaves much to be desired. Former national security ministers Martin Joseph and Howard Chin Lee on Friday refused to comment on the crime situation.
• Swift and visible decrease in crime.
• Hiring more manpower, modernisation of the response technology and more police vehicles.
• $60 million would be spent on the full-time establishment of 5,000 Special Reserve Police officers (SRPs) in varying ranks be posted in the police community-support branch and would undergo specialised training to work in non-confrontational areas to address anti-social behaviour and disorder.
• A new crime plan will be revealed.
• $5.1 million would be spent to establish police community-support-group officers throughout the nine divisions of the country.
• $164.5 million would be spent to acquire Information Technology solutions to aid crime detection and improve the E999 rapid response system.
• $300 million would be used to purchase 300 vehicles for the TTPS.
• Gave himself a six-month deadline to be held accountable for making a reduction in crime.
• Disclosed that part of his crime plan featured “close to 100” initiatives, which included the Hoop for Life and a job fair at the St Paul Street Community Centre in October.
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