With each passing day, it is becoming abundantly clear that we are in the middle of a deadly murder spiral that will easily surpass last year’s murder toll. Assassinations or hits are taking place on the main roads in broad daylight putting children and innocent citizens in the line of fire. The collateral damage is increasing. There appear to be no limits on what can happen, or when and where. Gunmen are around schools or passing through schools. Last week the child in the back seat miraculously escaped as the father was murdered. A child is battling for life, from a bullet to the head. Home invasions are on the increase.Citizens are becoming increasingly alarmed as there appear to be no safe spaces. This is eroding public confidence and those citizens with options will vote with their feet.
According to the anecdotal evidence, some are already migrating. Those emigrating could make it anywhere, the best and the brightest young minds. Those studying abroad will be encouraged to remain abroad by parents who are fearful of the crime level and the economic outlook. Eventually, businesses and their owners will move too. We understand that it will take time to correct the lawlessness and the violent crime situation. But it requires more than platform rhetoric. It requires an all-of-government approach to exercise the State’s monopoly on power within constitutional parameters. Unfortunately, the current administration seems unable to coordinate its cabinet members, far less the various arms of the State.
After publicly calling on the COP to provide an explanation in the Brent Thomas matter, Minister Hinds glibly tells the country that he received “a full oral explanation” without disclosing any information to the country.
In sharp contrast, the Barbados Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, the upmarket version of T&T’s Ministry of National Security understood his responsibility to the country and gave a full statement in Parliament. He explained how the Barbados police responded to the TTPS informal request admitting that the conduct of the Barbados police had fallen short “of applicable legal norms.”
The Barbados AG was clearly embarrassed by the whole affair and sought to mitigate the judge’s characterisation of Mr Thomas’s detention as abduction and limit the reputational damage to the Barbados justice system. Meanwhile, the T&T AG seems destined to shred any reputation he may have before assuming public office indicating a preference for a favourable judgment in the court of public opinion rather than waiting for a decision in the court of law. Ignoring the sub judice rule, the AG read from an affidavit to defend and mute public criticism of the police action in the Brent Thomas case.
From a poor memory, a missing file, and default judgments, the sloppiness continues. Like others before, the Police Commissioner made a public commitment to reduce the rate of violence even giving a date by which this reduction would occur. That now seems both an empty boast and a fool’s errand. This is no tea party. Leadership is made of sterner stuff and Minister Hinds is a poor example in this regard.
Whilst the prime minister and his Cabinet may say that want to solve the crime problem, none seem prepared to undertake either the responsibility for fixing the problem or to take actions that would begin to do so. As the Italian poet Dante pointed out seven hundred and fifty years ago, “The secret of getting things done is to act.” We might add, sensibly.