When Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds announced a media conference yesterday, citizens were hopeful he would have been unveiling some new crime initiative in response to the recent wave of violence across the country.
After all, it was coming after several weeks in which the criminal element had law-abiding citizens reeling in shock with a spate of recent murders which left even the not so faint of heart severely traumatised by their brutality.
Alas, it was not to be, as instead, all we got once again was another talk shop in which the minister, acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob and acting Prison Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar tried to convince the public that they had the intelligence about crime taking place under their watch but that it would take a lot more to actually bring the perpetrators to justice.
By the end of yesterday’s session, in which they were more defensive about their impotence in dealing with the criminals than anything else, it was noteworthy that they again pleaded with the public to assist them in getting the hardened criminals off the streets, where they are now running roughshod over law-abiding citizens.
Now, it is a fact that dealing with crime is every citizen’s responsibility, since law enforcement cannot possibly be everywhere all of the time. However, can anyone today fault any citizen for fearing for their safety if they are to offer valid information to bring down a gang leader in their community? In fact, Minister Hinds noted as much during the media conference, offering citizens the alternative of going directly to the police heads or even himself with their information if it would make them more comfortable.
Unfortunately, the Minister seems to forget the many cases of rogue officers within the system feeding the gang lords information on who provided the intelligence to law enforcement agencies in some cases. Indeed, the same leak of the confidential Special Branch report on his colleague Foster Cummings that Hinds was still upset about yesterday, is the perfect example of why some citizens prefer not to utter a word about crime to the TT Police Service, even if it is occurring in their backyards.
There remains a high level of mistrust between the T&TPS and the citizenry that will not go away any time soon. That is why Minister Hinds needed to announce an initiative that would result in more bodies on the ground making the criminal element, especially in the hot spot areas, uncomfortable and eventually bringing them to justice.
Citizens are tired of hearing about all the intelligence the law enforcement agencies claim to have about the crime being perpetrated - what they need now are results.
From what both Mr Jacob and Mr Ramoutar said yesterday, it is clear we are still a long way from achieving this.
So it still remains Minister Hinds’ responsibility to give law enforcement officers the tools they need to get the job done, discuss the implementation of crime initiatives and to hold law enforcement accountable if they still fail to deliver. As Minister Hinds himself noted yesterday, work, not talk, is what is needed now. We wait, therefore, to see whether all involved will follow up with that work ethic.