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Area lockdown was obvious option

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Criminologist worried nobody was caught
A group of beachgoers lime at Williams Bay, Chaguaramas, yesterday, hours after a shooting incident lead to the deaths of three people. PICTURE SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Calling for an immediate intervention in gang warfare following the Boardwalk triple murder, criminologist Dr Randy Seepersad yesterday called on the police to explain why they failed to arrest the shooters.

Seepersad, who has done extensive studies on T&T’s gangs, said the shootings which led to the deaths of Fabien “Super” Williams, 32, Kedel Osbourne, 18 and Andrew Francis, 39, underscored the need for the Ministry of National Security to adopt strategies to deal with gangsterism.

“Considering that there is only one road in and out of Chaguaramas, why wasn’t law enforcement able to respond quickly, enforce a lockdown and round up the suspects?” Seepersad asked.

“Something went seriously wrong. There is a police post near the Boardwalk, why didn’t they apprehend the men immediately? They could have radioed in and set up a blockade to flush out the perpetrators.

How is it that nobody has been arrested yet?”

He said it was possible that the police could not create a blockade because the area was crowded and they did not want a shootout leading to more casualties. However, he said the TT Police Service owed it to the public to explain what went wrong.

“Was there a lack of resources? If so, what is going to be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again?” Seepersad asked.

Based on the information given by the police, the shooting was gang-related and Seepersad said if this was so the likelihood of another shooting taking place in the same area was slim.

Asked whether he was surprised that gangsters were taking their bloodbath outside of their communities, Seepersad said yes.

“It is true that violence is commonplace now and criminals are more brazen. If this is gang reprisal then it means that gang members are becoming much more brazen and not sticking to inter-community violence any more. This is of serious concern and poses a public security risk that must be dealt with immediately,” Seepersad added.

He called on the Government to implement intervention strategies, saying Project Reason, which was done in 16 communities, had resulted in a 60 per cent decrease in gangs over a three-year period. The project, based on the Chicago model, involves direct assistance to gangsters to help them move away from criminal enterprises.

However, he said if something is not done soon T&T may end up like Jamaica, where communities are totally controlled by gangs.

“Government must put gangs on the front-burner or else we could run into serious problems,” Seepersad added.

Last year, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said between 2014 to 2017, gangs in T&T have increased 129 per cent and gang members have increased by 60 per cent. In 2014, the acting Police Commissioner had said there were 92 gangs with 1,500 members but in 2016 it grew to 172 gangs and 2,358 members and by 2017 there were 211 gangs and 2,458 members, he had said at that time.


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