Six murders in less than 24 hours is an alarming statistic on any day. T&T has been having too many such days with gunmen unhindered in their bloodthirsty assignments.
The increasing frequency of these killings, recorded as the country sped past its latest grim milestone of 200 murders so far this year, only adds to citizens’ levels of fear and trauma.
Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher’s many statements about a relentless push by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to dismantle criminal strongholds do little to dispel the perception that law and order are on the losing end of this battle.
There are now just weeks left before the deadline the CoP set for a crime reduction expires and so far, the data and daily experiences across the country suggest Ms Harewood-Christopher’s target will not be met.
The so far futile search for measurable crime-fighting results, combined with data on violent crime that is heading in the wrong direction, weighs heavily on all right-thinking citizens.
The realisation of more than 200 lives taken in just four months is hard enough to process. Even tougher to contemplate are the faces behind those numbers—not just the victims who suffered untimely and violent deaths but the many people in their circles of family and friends—real lives brutally impacted by T&T’s out-of-control murder rate.
Consider the gut-wrenching circumstances of the latest killings. Among the victims, a young man killed when he went to visit his five-month-old son in Diego Martin; three men gunned down as they limed at a Santa Cruz bar; a St Ann’s resident shot dead at his home; and a pensioner who became Tobago’s fifth murder victim for the year.
It is important not to lose sight of the compelling human elements in all these cases, as well as the others over the years that have made this country into one of the deadliest locations in the Caribbean.
This is the reality that has to be faced every day and it dominates discussions on social media and talk radio and is the most frequent subject of letters to newspapers.
Leaders, who, based on their professional and political portfolios, are on the frontlines of this fight against crime must accept they are accountable to citizens. They must do better.
Statements crafted by communications specialists and the occasional off-the-cuff comments from elected representatives no longer work. This nation has had its fill of platitudes and unkept promises.
The public goodwill the CoP still enjoys won’t last much longer if she continues to avoid public engagements. She is now a few months into her tenure at the TTPS helm and is yet to host a media conference to address the worsening crime wave.
As for National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, who is also the Laventille West MP, one of the country’s crime hotspots, he needs to demonstrate he truly understands his role in the “fight for the soul of Trinidad and Tobago.”
He cannot distance himself—he is on the frontlines of the battle to restore safety and security in this country and he must show more compassion and commitment as he goes about his ministerial duties.
It is time for fresh ideas and different strategies to deal with crime.