I was bemused by the ghoulish Halloween images that emerged out of
Trinidad. Our mimic people putting on scary masks of the dead, a ritual
of First World countries. A growing trend by a mimic people unaware we
are living in the land of ghoul?
Why not just go on a hunt to find the head of the body that was
decapitated, or the wounds of the Englishman and his wife butchered in
Tobago, or the murder of the Superintendent of Prisons Mr David Millette?
Instead of teaching our children about our own folklore and the
significance of remembering the dead, they put on masks of the dead in
the tenth most murderous country in the world. This lack of
self-awareness is nothing to the utterance of the Opposition leader who
issued a statement on crime.
“Dr Rowley has a direct duty and responsibility for issues of national
security, as he is the chairman of the National Security Council. “He
must speak, he must act, and he must assure the nation that initiatives
are being taken to bring this crisis to an end.”
Even the murder of Millette has not forced Dr Rowley into saying
something to a population that is quickly retreating into a daily life
of intense fear of crime.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar continued:
“The Prime Minister must end this routine silence on critical issues of
importance to citizens. Every murder is intolerable, and the Government
is acting as if it has no responsibility for the safety and security of
the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
“The number of murders escalated immediately after the PNM Government
took office, and now appears set to exceed last year’s murder rate, with
the Government appearing clueless to address this alarming trend.”
I agree that Government must tackle crime as a matter of great urgency,
but surely Bissessar doesn’t have this short a memory or the moral
authority to release that statement? The former prime minister got rid
of the most sincere and competent police commissioner we’ve had—
Canada-born T&T Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs—and put Jack Warner
(awaiting extradition from T&T to the US to answer fraud and money
laundering charges) in charge of National Security. Jack Warner mashed
up whatever good Gibbs was trying to do. That’s why we are where we are.
Crime doesn’t happen in a day. It cooks slowly. Gibbs was lynched by the
Persad-Bissessar government, used as a scapegoat, and vanquished because
he had a plan. The plan meant straightening out other elements of the
T&T Police Service which the Persad-Bisssessar government didn’t have
the guts to tackle.
Like I said, Gibbs had a plan and it was working. He is a foreigner. He
aimed for excellence. The Police Service felt threatened by the
commissioner’s claim of a whopping 25 per cent decrease in serious
crime. We not taking that.
After president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association
sent a pre-action protocol letter to former commissioner Gibbs, accusing
him of “breaching the Police Service Regulations in relation to the
21st-century policing project,” in March, 2012, I interviewed Gibbs.
He was holding on. He said, “Without doubt, the things that get thrown
at me take away some of the energy I should be using to focus on the
transformation of the service. Dealing with it doesn’t allow the
complete concentration I need to do my job.
But my focus hasn’t changed. I am here to build up the Police Service,
to help the citizens in T&T feel safe, and I am not allowing it to
distract from our ability to keep working on rolling out the 21st
Century police model.
“Since we began rolling out the 21st Century Policing Initiative there
has been a reduction of homicides by 20 per cent and serious crime
including larceny in homes and motor vehicles by 25 per cent."
Surely that was good news? “The Cabinet-approved 21st-Century Policing
Initiative required an entire paradigm shift in the delivery of policing
services to the nation to bring modern, contemporary, innovative
policing to T&T. The TTPS designed a policing model which requires
officers to police the streets instead of sitting in police stations;
placing officers in neighbourhoods and communities, patrolling and
working with residents to prevent crime. Visibility combats and prevents
“We work on the premise that committed, competent and caring officers
combined with modern technology and state-of-the-art equipment is
crucial to the success of the 21st-Century Policing Initiative.
“My challenge was and remains to update an archaic, increasingly
ineffective system, reduce crime and victimisation, improve road safety,
and provide a citizen-centred Police Service.”
I asked Gibbs if his system was tough on police officers. “The new
deployment system and shift schedules no longer build in rest/sleeping
period. Dormitories have been taken out and replaced with change room
facility and a quiet room. This ensures that officers are not sleeping
in the police stations, but are on the streets preventing, detecting and
responding to criminal activities.
“We were able to reduce working hours of police officers by increasing
our manpower with new police recruits going through the Police Academy’s
Enhanced Induction Training Programme. “In the past year, we have had
more promotions than the entire history of the TTPS. Officers of various
ranks have been promoted through a transparent and fair process. We
created history when ten people were appointed to the rank of assistant
Commissioner of Police, three of whom were women.”
That could have been a success story. The Opposition is there for checks
and balances. But first, I would like the Opposition leader to tell us
why she got rid of Gibbs.
Secondly, I ask Prime Minister Dr
Rowley, please bring Gibbs back in any capacity you think fit, but bring