In the five months since taking office as National Security Minister on April 19, Fitzgerald Hinds had not been as outspoken as he was on Friday when, during an interview with Guardian Media in St Barb's, he reflected on the performance of the national security services.
Hinds pointed out that only 40 per cent of all within those services were doing "all the work.” This, by all means, must be fixed and Hinds knows very well that the buck stops with him.
While the Commissioner of Police is in charge of crime suppression measures, it is the Minister who accounts for the overall safety of the country to the people through the Parliament. He is the one who must provide resources for the police and other arms of law enforcement to perform at their best and justify to the Cabinet the reasons for seeking a significant budget for public safety each year.
Hinds, therefore, was well within his rights to question the performances of the units under his ministerial portfolio and call for better to be done.
His comments did not go down too well with the Police Service Social and Welfare Association (PSSWA), whose president, Inspector Gideon Dickson, on Saturday called for a retraction.
Dickson felt that Hinds’ remarks were unwarranted, demoralising, unfair and reckless.
We couldn't disagree more.
What Hinds said - which we carried extensively as our lead stories on Friday night's CNC3 news and the Saturday Guardian - did not amount to wildfire condemnation.
In a week of multiple murders, the Minister was prodding all security agencies to return to the top of their game.
Of the Police Service, he noted that many officers knew full well who the criminals were and where to find them. Yet, he said, some were simply not being brought to book.
This is a question every right-thinking, law-abiding citizen in T&T has been asking for many years. By asking it, Hinds was simply echoing the views of the majority. He also suggested that if there were more patrols taking place, there were likely to be fewer opportunities for criminals to reign and reminded the police that they have jurisdiction over "every square inch" of this country, even if in their investigations, they require a warrant to do so.
The PSSWA may view these pronouncements as condemnatory. We see them as an apt call for accountability.
We know national security personnel are human beings just like everyone else facing the same challenges - financial, emotional and physical - that COVID-19 has brought and we are certainly not unsympathetic to their difficulties.
But they know just as well that national security agencies hold the types of responsibilities wherein there is no room for error, complacency or dropping the ball.
As COVID-19 thrives on just one mistake, so too our criminals thrive on loopholes created when those charged with law enforcement take their feet off the gas.
It is for this reason Hinds was careful to point out that his job includes motivating the other 60 per cent to ensure full performance.
We trust, therefore, that he too leads from the front by significantly upping his game to ensure whatever motivational methods he employs, succeeds.
After all that T&T has been through in the last 18 months, a rise in criminal activity is the last thing this country needs.