The T&T Police Service has been thrown into a less than favourable light in the past few weeks, from issues surrounding the issuance of firearms users licenses to the debacle in the appointment of a police commissioner.
Last Friday, in an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds expressed concern about the operations of the country’s security forces, indicating that a mere 40 per cent of the security services are doing the work. Minister Hinds provided no analysis on why some 60 per cent of the human resources in the various agencies services may be lagging behind on doing the jobs they are paid for. But this is something the country must be concerned about given that millions of dollars allocated to the ministry annually go towards paying those wages.
Yesterday, three police officers were charged with offences including conspiracy to defraud the government, misbehaviour in public office and larceny of a police vehicle. It is not the first time police officers have been charged with such offences, but what is clear is that no matter how many times it happens, there seems to be a lack of will on the part of those in charge to properly address what is a serious national issue that impacts the state of crime and the justice system in this country.
The question of the frequency of such incidents and that of who will guard the guards must be of concern not just to the general population, but those charged with T&T’s overall national security apparatus. However, a few bad apples should not be allowed to spoil the image of the Police Service, not that it has been a pristine one in recent decades.
Still, it cannot be that members of the protective services get into the back pockets of the criminal element because they feel they are not paid well enough. Policing and security of the nation by law enforcement agencies should not be taken lightly, especially not at a time when rumblings are coming from the man who led the 1990 insurrection.
This country cannot afford any instability at this time. Citizens have been through enough with the local economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic. It is just not good enough for those in charge to make statements of concern — what is required is action to correct the ills that plague the system at all levels.
It is, however, only by understanding the whole problem that a solution can be found. If not, we will continue to see instances of law enforcement officers falling off the wagon and joining forces with those viewed by the population as enemies of the state hell-bent on destroying the peace and security of the country. Police and other law enforcement officers cannot be good and bad at the same time. They take an oath to protect and serve and those charged with overseeing their operation must ensure they do their jobs — if not, then they should all hit the road. Law-abiding citizens depend on the security forces to ensure their safety and security. Therefore, it cannot be that they are part of the problem. If so, where next can we turn?