Last update: 09-Dec-2013 9:32 pm
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Duncan Street police post contractor: I’m no gang leader
Contractor Kenneth Rodriguez is denying a claim that he is a gang leader. Rodriguez is the contractor for the new $2 million police post on Duncan Street, Port-of-Spain. It is expected to be opened later this month. He spoke with reporters after a tour by acting Prime Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday. During the budget debate last month, Opposition senator Pennelope Beckles told legislators a gang leader had been given a contract to construct a police post in the capital city.
“As we speak, one gang member has a contract to repair a police station,” Beckles said. She later called for an investigation. Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and managing director at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Jearlean John, who were also on the tour, along with Minister of National Security Minister Gary Griffith, subsequently denied that any contract had been given to any gang leader or gang member to construct a police post.
Responding to those allegations yesterday, Rodriguez said he did not see himself as any gang leader. “I am a community activist that carries out my jobs. If I was a gang leader, there isn’t anything that could stop the police from putting me in prison,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez whose alias is “Spanish,” said he had never been charged with any offence, and no one could say he had encouraged anyone to commit a crime.
He said people could say whatever they wanted to say, but those who knew him would also know that he was no gang leader. He welcomed the project, adding that he was a registered contractor who was working for what he wanted and was also involved in another construction project for the HDC.
Rodriguez also admitted he was not particularly interested in denying the claims that he was a gang leader. He said he had never been reported in the news media or on CNC3’s Crime Watch as a gang leader, so he was not concerned about the claim. “Nobody has any proof against me so I don’t have to carry on any talk. I’m just working and that is about it,” he said.
Griffith said in the Senate recently that no gang leaders would be given any government contracts, saying if given such opportunities, they would only use the money to strengthen their criminal gangs. He said, however, that people seeking to turn away from crime would be given such opportunities.
Jobs will bring peace
Yesterday, Rodriguez said those who raised the issue may have been given false information, and noted that Griffith made no mention of that matter during yesterday’s visit. Rodriguez also said once there was employment in the community there would be peace. “A payday is a very important thing to every human,” he added. Apart from talk there must be food for citizens, he added, saying, “If you can’t do that you will still have problems on your hands.”
Employment must be created for all youths in crime hot spots across the country, he said. According to Rodriguez: “Plenty employment will change the streets of T&T.” The setting up of the police post is seen as one of the initiatives to help curb the rising spate of murders in the community. It was announced by PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar after a visit to the community last month in the wake of a series of murders.
Griffith: No support for criminals
Asked specifically yesterday if any gang member was benefiting from the contract, Griffith told reporters he was not about to “reveal intelligence.” “What I am telling you is that you can’t have the State support you, then utilise the funds to ply your trade and to commit criminal activities.” He said the Government will act if any gang leader remained committed to using his earning to buy more guns. “If you want to utilise this and still purchase more guns, that is when we will put our foot down,” Griffith said.
He denied saying that any gang leader was employed on the project. “I made no mention of it. I am not going to make specific mention of any areas. We have intelligence (and) it could be anywhere,” Griffith said. He said the authorities were fully aware if any gang leader had changed his life or was using others as fronts to acquire a contract. Griffith said the new police post will have a positive effect on reducing crime.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.