Last update: 02-Aug-2014 1:02 am
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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DOMA on Seetahal‘s murder probe: Give cops the reward
Give the hand-picked team of officers assigned to investigate the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal the $3.5 million reward being offered in the case and you are bound to get results. The proposal was made yesterday by secretary of the Police Second Division Association, Insp Micheal Seales, after a similar suggestion by the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA).
DOMA made the suggestion as it said it was tired of hearing excuses in dealing with the crime scourge, noting that any incentives given could help in solving Seetahal’s killing but the overall crime problem as well. But Seales had a caveat: If the team does not solve the crime it would “be a failure on the part of the Police Service and its leadership. “Seetahal’s murder was not ‘ordinary’ but rather was an act to terrorism and a threat to the country’s democracy,” Seales said.
He added: “You have to treat the police as professionals and we are saying give us the $3.5 million instead because it requires a certain level of knowledge and technology among other factors. It goes beyond the scope of ordinary policing. “The association wants this murder to be solved and we have to look at it through the eyes of the man in the street, who have already given the Police Service a big “F” and if they do not solve this murder then the Police Service deserves the big “F.”
Despite repeated assurance from National Security Minister Gary Griffith and acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams that the investigating officers are diligently working on bringing the perpetrator/s of the crime to justice, there have been no arrests in Seetahal’s May 4 murder to date.
Sense of hopelessness
In a statement earlier yesterday, DOMA said instead of only offering incentives in response to major crimes, they should be given to the police perhaps on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. “If we were paying incentives for service, wouldn’t we be assured of better service? And if incentives work in one service, say national security, couldn’t we then try this model in other sectors?” DOMA asked.
“Why not offer the $3.5 million reward to those police officers that solve this crime? Why not overhaul the management model of our national services? Why not ask the managerial elite to write a new rule book for critical governance issues?” It added that rather than finding an answer to the crime scourge, successive governments have continually come up short.
“What is extremely depressing, however, are the lame, repetitive responses from the various agencies and authorities whose job it is to protect our nation. What has occurred is an unmistakable threat to the future welfare of our country. “Nowhere in the various assurances of action to be taken have we heard of a single new strategy. All of the old ideas are regurgitated every time we face the horrors of criminality; more guns, more vehicles, more cameras and bigger cash rewards for information.
“Buzzwords have been also used by successive governments to give the impression of command, “strategic assets” or “threat assessment” are two that come to mind,” it added. Saying that thousands of murders have remained unsolved, DOMA said “colossal affronts” to the country’s national security, like the exportation of cocaine in juice tins, were left to “drift into history.
“A complete sense of hopelessness is therefore eating away at our national psyche. We have almost lost the fight against evil and our impotence is repeatedly highlighted by the responses of those to whom we look for protection,” DOMA said. “Our incapacity includes the elite of the society, especially us, the business community, whose demands that the government “must control crime now” and “crime will deter investors” is lacking in civic responsibility to the point of naked selfishness.”
Cops not bounty hunters—Griffith
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday he would not support the initiative proposed by DOMA, saying the police must do what they are being paid to do. In the same breath, Griffith recognised the fact that there were many officers who went above and beyond the call of duty and in such instances they would be properly recognised for their efforts.
He added: “Let me make it clear that what I would not support taking Crime Stoppers’ reward and giving it to the police to solve this murder because if you do this then what happens next? This could have a serious domino effect... police officers must never be turned into bounty hunters. “I personally do not think we should reward police officers for doing their job, which is still in the investigative stage. I would expect them to be professional enough to do their job.”
Saying he understood the concept behind DOMA’s proposal, however, Griffith said when the issue of renumeration was raised by visiting United States policing expert William Joseph “Bill” Bratton in November last year, it was heavily criticised by different sectors. “When Mr Bratton said this we were attacked. It showed I knew what I was speaking about all along. If you offer proper remuneration to police officers, the concept of increasing remuneration will play a very big part in reducing the possibility of murders.
“It is very important we do recognise the hard work of police officers. We definitely have to put in place better remuneration incentives,” Griffith said. But he expressed confidence that Seetahal’s murder would be solved as the investigators were “on top of their game.” “I stand very firmly behind the investigators and I have every confidence they will crack this case. From day one they have been working, looking at footage from CCTV cameras and examining other factors.
“It is very difficult for police to deal with detection of homicides based on the lack of human intelligence and we appeal to people to come forward, whether it be for love of country or for money,” Griffith said. Contacted last evening for comment on DOMA and Seales’s call for the reward to be offered to the investigators, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said: “Anybody could support whatever statement they wish but I have no comment to make on that matter.”