“No change can be made outside of the Parliament with respect to the content of this report,” said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in referencing the resurrected 2017 TTPS Manpower Audit Report, to indict the Opposition for refusing to support anti-crime legislation brought by the Government.
However, chairman of the said 2017 Manpower Commission into the TTPS, criminologist, Prof Ramesh Deosaran, subsequently told the T&T Guardian the Government must seek to adopt and implement all 82 recommendations in the report. He labelled the recommendation to reform the Police Service Commission the most important.
“The crime fight is there. If you are bringing in foreign assistance, the CIA and the FBI, you will have to have a very proper, effective template on which to rest that assistance, which means you have to do some work with your own police service,” is the view of the former UWI criminologist.
“That is where the bottom line in implementation and execution exists,” the criminologist made known after the Prime Minister’s news conference.
The circumstances of the present are that the Government is seeking desperately to bring relief to a country under siege from criminals, and to do so with only 12 to 15 months left of its term. If it cannot do so through legislative and other measures, then its chosen option is to shift responsibility to the Opposition.
As desperate as Government, is the Opposition Leader, whose political career hangs on staunching the flow of defeats she has led her party into, especially in general elections.
What is certain is that when the campaign begins formally, the onus will be on Government to tangibly show it has at least been breaking into the gangs and disrupting the cartels which are said to be the financiers and major beneficiaries of crime in the country.
That the Prime Minister resurrected the Deosaran Manpower Report to support his argument of an inefficient, deformed and dysfunctional police service, and the refusal of the Opposition to support legislation to counter crime, is a display of desperation.
PM Rowley’s efforts to shift the responsibility to the Opposition also contrasts with his refusal to heap responsibility on CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher, for her failure at effective planning and the inability to corner the criminals and their gangs with quality police work.
Unless the Prime Minister brings specifics about the legislative obstruction by the Opposition to the bills placed before the Parliament, what could have been achieved if passed, and indeed, examples of the successes of other related pieces of legislation, he will have to live with the conclusion of many that his was an attempt at political propaganda and evasion of his prime ministerial responsibility.
Moreover, and as pointed out by Professor Deosaran, there are 82 anti-crime recommendations in the report. The Prime Minister needed to point to those which have been adopted and implemented, and successes and failures of those measures.
But whatever the blockage to pass legislation in the Parliament, the on-the-ground inability to root out the criminal gangs, to turn young people away from a life of crime, and to intervene in the financing and importation of weapons and the drugs trade, rampant criminality must be considered as political failure of the Government.