Let’s Not Over­load Cap­tain Grif­fith

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Wayne Kublals­ingh Re­mand

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.

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