We haven’t really unpacked the Police Commissioner’s statement when he said at the outset to give him a year.
What exactly did he mean by that depends on what is one’s own perspective. He has got wildly positive ratings in the public imagination.
But among the people who should feel particularly targeted, it is a worryingly different story. Staring at the irrepressible murder rate as he spoke in Parliament last week, the National Security Minister said it was in effect running away from us. It was at 455 while he was speaking. He feared it could get to 500 before the end of the year. It was 466 yesterday. The figure for 2018 was 516.
As he was speaking, criminals were continuing their tone-deafness. A man left his bed in the middle of the night to accompany his pregnant wife to the outhouse. He had to decide to sacrifice his own life to spare hers. The neighbours say they didn’t know him to be in anything, but the police say they had a file on him.
For the second time bandits pounced on the Member of Parliament for Princes Town, relieving him of everything they could run off with, including a black Prado SUV. They abandoned it at their whim. A 52-year-old fruit vendor is chopped to death in Freeport. The report from the police said the man was seen at his home around 6.30 p.m. on the day in question. A man with a cutlass approached him, casually it seems. But “with no observable warning” the man with the cutlass began attacking the eventual victim. He then entered the victim’s car, before moving on. The man died on the scene.
In Marabella, from reporting on the same page in the newspaper, on the same day, a father of 11 was shot to death in front of eight of the children around 5 a.m. Two men entered the house at that hour and confronted him. He thought he could escape to the bedroom but they followed him, shooting him multiple times. They got into a waiting vehicle which sped away.
You ain’t seen nothing yet, the commissioner had told adoring citizens, if they thought he had made a difference during his first year in office. He said how humbled he was by the public adulation. He is getting what he wants, from the politicians at least. After railing against a judiciary he sees as recalcitrant in its reluctance to march to his drum-beat, he has got the Government to bring legislation to Parliament to alter the arrangements for bail for people accused of firearms possession. Any challenge to his interventionist approach to the enforcement of law and order is met with the rebuke about considering the plight of the law abiding. It is as though the price of urging restraint and the maintenance of citizens’ rights is to court being thrown in with the law-breakers.
“The judiciary has to play its role in reflecting the intentions of Parliament and the concerns to all our law abiding citizens,” the commissioner said in a statement his office issued last week.
In what is a now familiar tactic in his strategy for influence, the commissioner leaves open to interpretation, that law-abiding citizens should not want to be counted among those who would dare disagree with him.
But Independent Senators Anthony Vieira and Sophia Chote are among others who have decided courageously to run interference with him on this matter. “Accused persons can be framed,” Senator Vieira said during debate on the new proposed bail amendment. “This is not an exceptional thing in Trinidad and Tobago,” he warned. Senator Chote has also opposed the substance of this amendment. Like Senator Vieira, she trashes the bill’s intention to legislate away the court’s prerogative in such matters. In this debate also, someone raised the ugliness behind the plot which saw missiles and drugs placed in a water tank at the home of former UNC government senator, Sadiq Baksh years ago.
Meanwhile, however, no intelligence appears able to prevent the constant attempts on the life of Rachael Sukhdeo, wife of the notorious deceased Sheron Sukhdeo. Almost every other week, it seems, those who want her dead are unimpeded in their efforts to get at her.
A woman sitting in a car in Mt Hope is visited by a man with a gun. He drives away after fatally shooting her in the chest.
The commissioner’s message is not getting home to the people who matter most: those doing the killing. They remain unshaken by his threats and his megaphone announcements about more thunder to come. He came to the job with the reputation of having regarded such perpetrators as cockroaches, to be crushed underfoot, the reference evoking the ethnic war of Rwanda in 1994 which riveted the world’s attention.
Spectacular exercises such as the raids on the homes of high-end earners in Gulf View remain without the results which would back up their legitimacy.
—Andy Johnson is
a veteran journalist
LINK ORIGINAL: Trinidad Express