Let’s Not Overload Captain Griffith
Itrust we don’t load the eager and ambitious Captain Gary Griffith, Trinidad & Tobago’s top cop designate, as if he were a Sa Wa (San Juan) jackass, and when he wilts, which is bound to happen if we do this, excoriate and lambast him to the maximum, as we have done with earlier Commissioners of Police. I hope we don’t persist with ignorant and reckless socio-economic policy and, when the proverbial porridge hits the fan, cry: “Where the damn police?” I hope we don’t retire to the beach to luxuriate, or to Rituals or to KFC or the big-food and sexy-goods malls, then when things get screwy, cry: “Eh, eh! But Gary, the government ain’t fix that yet?” Here is a summarised ten-point plan for attacking our current crime contagion: Fixing the Economic Structure The prevailing economic structure is programmed to attack local assets, local economies, substitute the destroyed production process and sell us, at cut-throat prices, the very things that have been destroyed. We are thus corralled as sheep and goats, deemancipated, at the mercy and behest of global traders and producers. Our governments, unwittingly, ignorantly or schemily, supply the legal, financial, policy and police apparatus for this. Once local economies are destroyed—as they vied to do with the rich domestic, farming, commercial economy of Debe to Mon Desir, milk honey and forestry at Chatham, the fisheries off Claxton Bay etc, is we to catch: rural ruination, despair, unemployment, drugs, inflation. Fixing the Police The police mechanism is the first and ultimate instrument for fixing crime. Leave the Commissioner to lead, to independently do his job instead of undermining his leadership, always looking behind his back at line or government ministers. Recruit persons who have a passion and vitality for the job; this is not a ten-day, pick-up transitory job. It demands clever technologies for detection, information storage and public participation. Real Local Government All crimes are committed in communities, localities. It is on the ground where the rice is boiled, where the pot gets washed. A system of polling division captains, constituency chiefs, a council of elders (business, police, church, education, farmers, fishermen, vendors, etc) overseeing and supporting selected streets and families, is a powerful asset on the ground. With the existing frayed network, police and government have no chance. The PM or Police Commissioner could call 24 hours a day and ask serious questions of a PD captain; not just where the bandit pass but: “That elderly lady with the wheelchair, you fix that situation?”
The government must use its authority and finances to delegate a media house solely devoted to crime. Monitoring, broadcasting, detecting, working with the citizenry 24 hours a day. Serious crimes should never be allowed to reach the bottom file by overworked, overloaded police.
The PM is ultimately responsible for taking the bull by the horns. The PM must loom large. No rest. Crime is a national emergency priority. Muster the forces. Act. Enforce. Hands-on and active leadership from the very top; the person who can harness shots, drive, action, is a must. Declarations are key. Declare: ‘The NonViolent Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.’ And work towards it. The US Role The US has an insatiable appetite for narcotics. This drives the drug production trade to the South, the Caribbean, Central and Latin America. Each middle-man gets a cut. In US dollars! If we suppress the narcotic conduit in our nation, the US benefits. US governments should be radically engaged to contribute technology, helicopters, boats, surveillance etc. Arrest Drug Lords Arrest a proverbial Mr Big. Put him at Golden Grove Prison to plant Christmas sorrel for a lifetime. Confiscate his property. Such an action will have a precipitative effect, will create spin-off successes. Do the rulers have the guts to allow this?
Too much paper in the judiciary and the parliament. Strengthen the Summary Courts Act to set up summary courts for serious crimes (murder, drug trading and gunrunning, grand larceny, tax evasion, rape). Using oral and video (digital) documentation. Next to the prisons. With retired members of the judiciary. Citizens take matters into their hands because of sickeningly slow juridical processes, losing faith, ordering hits to solve problems. Or dealing with it by themselves: blows, cutlass, bullets. A New Breed Corruption has become culturally genetic. An altered gene pool is necessary. A new breed of citizen, ethical, hard-working, non-materialist, must be trained at the largest catchment of citizen in our nation: the primary schools. Sports, science, reading, math. Simplify. A primary school revolution. Yard is filled with users, a cockroach or spliff. Not good. The Law needs to alter its outlook. Focus on the not More on the source, traders of narcotics and guns. Drug kingpins and gunrunners. Free up space for these latter. Our governments have become part of the apparatus of economic ruination. Why is this government vying for more ram-cramming of the East-West Corridor? With its insane plan for ten eight-storey high-rises for low and middle-income families on the St Joseph Government Farm? Aggravating social and economic stress for existing and incoming residents? With not a single square inch of land to own? Will Captain Griffith and the police continue to be our Sa Wa Jackass? NOTE: The author is a graduate of UWI and Oxford University. He taught for 17 years at UWI St. Augustine, is an activist for ‘ital’ development and the author of several books on economics. He lives in Trinidad.