In the last four days, 17 people have been confirmed to have been murdered in T&T. While killings are nothing new in this country, the continued preponderance of them and the deafening silence from the government and the Police Commissioner are equally worrying.
Prime Minister, Minister of National Security and Commissioner of Police, this country is afraid, it is traumatised and looking for answers from the people being paid to bring safety and security to the society.
This newspaper has written editorials ad nauseum about the crime problem and what it is doing to the society, yet a solution seems ever further out of reach as each day passes.
It is clear that this is a nation which has developed a gang culture in which the settling of disagreements is done through the barrel of a gun. No society can be successful if the way in which disputes are settled is by violence. Unless we wake up we will find ourselves in a state of anarchy before we know it.
Crime has the ability to feed on itself. It is a danger to our way of life. We live in a fool’s paradise if we drive comfortably into our homes and say this has nothing to do with us because it is gang-related and being committed in depressed urban areas, often by an underclass.
Crime hurts businesses and investments and can push legitimate commercial activity out of existence with a commensurate loss of jobs. It makes employers and potential investors delay opening new businesses and significantly increases the cost of doing business. This has the potential effect of negatively impacting the economy and every citizen of T&T.
The crime surge and the nature of the murders also reveal a side of us that we often try to avoid seeing, one in which we refuse to respect individual liberty and self-determination.
How else do we explain the spate of murders of women by men on account of the women choosing to no longer be involved with their assailants?
We will be the first to admit that no police officer or politician can stop a person if they are bent on killing someone, particularly as it relates to issues of domestic violence. But Police Commissioner Gary Griffith came to office promising to significantly reduce the crime rate and instead it has gone in the opposite direction.
A year later, the often tough-talking Commissioner appears unable to articulate a clearly defined strategy to reduce crime and as part of it improve the detection rate.
The Prime Minister, who came to office promising to make crime-fighting a priority, has had little to say about the bloodletting that is happening under his watch.
No one is asking the Prime Minister to investigate crime or to make a citizen’s arrest but he must show that he cares about citizens who are dying at the hands of gunmen. We need leadership on these issues, we need to hear of measures that include issues of educational reform, mentoring, increased law and border enforcement. In short, we need leadership.