Former deputy political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Robert Mayers has criticised the Government for approaching the state of emergency the wrong way. Though Mayers supports the move by Government to impose a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in six areas to weed out the criminal elements, he felt the approach by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, National Security Minister John Sandy and CoP Dwayne Gibbs left much to be desired. "My expectation is that if you have intelligence, you would first lock down the hot spot areas, using the army and police and then announce a state of emergency. This was not done."
Instead, Mayers, who is still a member of the COP, said Persad-Bissesar had put the cart before the horse. By doing this, Mayers said it gave the criminals enough time to get away from the dragnet. "I am not sure they know what they are doing. I found that to be quite curious. This should have been their weapon of surprise." Mayers said the way the Government was handling the situation has not inspired confidence in the public. "There are so many stories being spun. I really don't know. It is not inspiring confidence and that is the problem." To compound matters, Mayers said there was still a lack of public trust in the T&T Police Service. "If there are bad eggs in the police service how do you get rid of them because they now have extra powers? The bad eggs have the same powers as the others. How do you deal with that?"
He insisted that the police service needed to be cleansed. "I don't get much comfort by the fact that there are a few bad eggs. Get them out. If I have to use a state of emergency to do it I will do it." Mayers said he was of the firm belief that Sandy was not doing much. He also felt that some people occupying Government offices are not fit. "That is my own view." Stating that it was too early to say if the lock down would reduce crime and drugs in the country, Mayers said people have not been optimistic that the measures taken will yield anything tangible.
Mayers said the People's Partnership administration should not have disbanded the Special Anti Crime Unit (SAUTT). Even though the People's National Movement handled SAUTT one way, Mayers said the Prime Minister could have maintained the unit but managed it differently. "Hopefully that could have allowed them to put their forces in the place when a state of emergency was declared. It would have nabbed who needed to be nabbed even if they didn't have justiciable evidence to take them to court."
Mayers questioned how long T&T can continue with a sate of emergency and curfew, stating the business community, mainly restaurants, hotels and bars were buckling under pressure from poor sales. "To continue with a state of emergency would be madness, but it is an option that they have." Mayers said there are several countries in South America that lived under martial law for a long time. "I don't know if that is the way to go. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed."