While the country remains in the grip of an apparent siege by murderers who are seemingly stalking their victims at will without fear of repercussions, something may have passed quietly over the weekend in another Guardian Media exclusive piece.
Indeed, while the Government and the Opposition finally put aside political differences last week to vote and pass the Bail (Amendment) Bill, came the revelation last weekend that well-known businessmen were further enriching themselves as part of criminal gangs and cartels.
The article quoted extensively from a police intelligence report which noted that these businessmen, numbering some 40 at the time it was compiled, collude with known gangsters to participate in various nefarious activities, including drug dealing, human trafficking and gun-running. According to the report, many of them do so through the operations of what can be termed “legal businesses,” while gangsters are also setting up business establishments through which they channel and launder their ill-gotten gains.
If what is reported in the document is correct, the T&T Police Service’s top brass claims at being surprised that the officers who investigated and presented the information which contributed to the report did not themselves make arrests acting on this intelligence at some stage is disconcerting.
And therein lies T&T’s biggest problem. It is a slap in the face of what occurred last week in the Parliament that police officers continue to be a big part of this problem. We have known for years of rogue elements within the service who facilitate this activity for their financial benefit.
Only recently, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has raised the issue of state contracts being awarded to gangsters as his biggest point in the argument of the police’s ineptitude in compiling concrete evidence to convict perpetrators of not only murders but serious crime altogether. This latest report clearly shows that the Commissioner must also sort out these grievous in-house matters as well if he is to achieve his ultimate goal of eradicating the crime problem.
Needless to say, Mr Griffith’s other argument about polygraph tests for officers must also now be part of the way going forward. In this regard, we note the stance of newly-minted Police Social and Welfare Association president Insp Gideon Dickson that Griffith cannot compel officers to take such tests. We counter-argue, however, that full compliance with this policy will go a long way towards restoring public confidence in the T&T Police Service.
We cannot continue to be hypocritical about dealing with the crime issue. We must deal with the ruthless criminals armed with guns, those armed with the pen and the officers who facilitate criminal enterprise with the same fervour, since these activities all ultimately produce the same result—denying law-abiding citizens of the right to proper services and the ability to conduct their without emotional fear of crime possibly reaching their doorstep at any time.