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Rowley: Police Service not up to task
The country’s crime problem is unbearable and the long and short of it is that the Police Service is not up to the task, said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, as he unveiled parts of a crime plan, the PNM has begun working on, for when it gets into government. “People said they are beginning to lose faith that we could ever pull it back. We give the assurance we will put our hands to the tiller and steer the ship of T&T.
“We in the Opposition are taking steps to understand the problem and prepare responses,” he said, to a loud burst of relieved applause. Rowley was addressing a packed room at the Arima Town Hall during a PNM town meeting on Monday night. Another crime plan of the PNM is to change the curriculum of primary schools, to create, not just well certified people, but quality human beings, Rowley said.
“When we come into office we will be focusing heavily on primary schools. There will be a fundamental shift with respect to resource allocation. If we put more resources and attention to moulding minds in primary schools, they will take it to secondary schools, university and work.” Rowley said this way, anger and detrimental behaviour could be minimised. “We believe we can turn it around, but we have to break the mould somewhere.
“The issue is curriculum failure. We are more concerned about certification. We have to make some radical changes to create quality citizens. We have to go back to the primary schools to begin to rectify the problem. The status of primary school teachers will be elevated beyond what they never knew.” Rowley said in the PNM’s crime plan, a lot of support will also have to come from social mechanisms.
He said despite challenges, the former PNM administration did have some successes in alleviating crime. It was by “staying on the job” that the police were able to bring to an end the spate of kidnapping under the last administration, he said. The former PNM government was also making progress with information-gathering on the proliferation of gangs and gang warfare in and around Port-of-Spain, until the People’s Partnership Government came into power, Rowley said.
He said the present administration, under Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar herself, “stripped the country naked before criminals” by dismantling information-gathering systems. “Criminals are in charge now,” he said. To highlight the importance of information-gathering, Rowley said when ace crime-fighter Randolph “The Fox” Burroughs, a former commissioner of police, hung out at a bar in Curepe junction, it was a ploy to gather information on criminal activities from underworld elements.
Referring to the ongoing government-hosted National Week of Prayer, he said the Government had now desperately resorted to praying.