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The police need help – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Steve Alvarez -
Steve Alvarez –

THE EDITOR: We watched the video of a prison officer being murdered in the presence of his child and the police that followed shortly thereafter just lost the vehicle and we accepted that as normal.

We read about a fish vendor gunned down in Erin in the presence of many, and the car simply drove away with the gunmen. We ingest the news as just another murder.

Have we ever wondered how in a country with extraordinarily few minor roads the police seem to always miss the bad guys? In Erin, for example, there is one road to the beach and that road passes the police station. Yet men with guns can go to the beach, shoot people and drive away.

If there is one sector of our society that is afraid of the police, it is the ordinary law-abiding citizen. They fear police breaking down their doors in the dead of night, frightening their children. They fear being roughed up at roadblocks. They fear getting traffic tickets. Many stay as far as possible from these men with big guns that drive along with flashing lights.

The bandits on the other hand have no such fear. They kill with impunity, they steal guns from the police and they flout their power as they control illegal activities in the communities where they reside.

The Government however seems to have little control as far as law enforcement is concerned. After appointing a commissioner of police (CoP) for a fixed term in office, this government was unable to appoint or reappoint a substantial CoP immediately after the end of the commissioner’s term.

That is not just a matter of ineptitude, it is irresponsible and does not give the citizens any bit of confidence that those whom they elected to serve them is interested in their protection.

Security not only allows communities to develop, but it also allows children to play and enjoy their childhood without fear of harassment or being enticed to join gangs. It promotes tourism as visitors feel safe visiting strange places. It supports business development as investors feel free to expand their businesses without being robbed or kidnapped. It promotes goodwill among community members as they see the police station as a place for dispute resolution.

What we have is a disaster. There are more rough, impolite police than the great ones who greet you kindly and diligently serve their community. There are much more unsolved murders and robberies than there are arrests.

The police service needs to be restructured. The officers must be well paid, properly outfitted and retrained. There is immediate need for modern policing practices and equipment. There must be a police commissioner appointed in a simple, modern recruitment structure that allows for the most competent person to access the job.

Police must be held accountable for security breaches that allow bandits and murderers to escape despite being outgunned. We must do better.

STEVE ALVAREZ

via e-mail

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