Addressing the 46th annual convention of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) at the Queen’s Park Savannah on the outskirts of the capital, Rowley acknowledged that over the past years billions of dollars had been on providing the necessary resources to the police, but the country is still faced with unprecedented spate of crime.
He told supporters while there would be “no quick fix” it was important nonetheless for the local police force to be guided by a Commissioner. The last person to serve in the post was Canadian-born Dwayne Gibbs, who along with his compatriot Deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski resigned in July 2012 with more than a year of their three-year contracts remaining.
Rowley told the convention, which coincided with the presentation of the 134 candidates to contest the November 28 Local Government elections, that after 60 years since the PNM formation and providing leadership to Trinidad and Tobago “sadly all is not well.
”We have to agree in the midst of these enduring diamonds of progress we continue to be confronted with the nagging spate of crime and lawlessness which have been poisoning our environment and undermining our gains.
“But we must be practical there is no quick fix We just have to stay the course making the necessary corrections until we finally succeed in rooting out this scourge,” he said, adding “let me be brutally honest….and let us be brutally honest with ourselves over the past 20 years we have been spending billions of dollars, outfitting and equipping our police with great expectations”.
But Rowley said there is “too much confusion, dysfunctionality and outright failure at the many layers at the top to expect the best from the middle and the base.
‘Imagine in this dire and protracted situation of runaway crime and criminality I face tomorrow morning not knowing who is or who will be in charge of the police service and I am head of the National Security Council”.
Rowley said that the fact the Police Service Commission and the police senior ranks themselves “may not know should tell you why we are underperforming in our necessary response to the criminal elements.
‘It is taking too long for us to reap the benefits of all our investments. I am convinced that the solution goes beyond the wealth of resources placed at the disposal of our law enforcement officers,” he said, adding “there also seems to be a continuous stream of… citizens for whom death and destruction is an ordinary days work”.
He said there is a small “but deadly minority who choose crime as a way of life to the extent that there are criminals walking among us for whom their idea of a job or putting down a work is the stuffing out the lives of the next hapless victim for a fee.
“The time has come for us to take a fresh look at the model of policing which we have been practising over the years,” Rowley told supporters, calling for a national discourse to finding new lasting solutions to “this growing cancer which threatens to destroy all of us”.
So far this year 379 people have been murdered as compared to 355 for the same period last year and Rowley said where the authorities deem it necessary they would seek external help.
‘But the matter is in the hands of all of us. I hear your voices from all walks of life clamouring for partnering with the police.
‘It is a legitimate and genuine justifiable call. A call to join minds and hearts in the fight against the forces of evil but this partnering will not occur in a vacuum,” he said, noting that it entails putting in place the framework of institutions to make the initiative happen and making it work.
He said community policing, which is now being embraced by developed countries such as the United States, and the United Kingdom “will support the other initiatives currently underway.
“Evidence abound that social disorder and criminal activity have been rising….all over the world and this has been forcing societies to re-examine the role of the police in public safety initiatives,” he said, adding that ‘the most up to date trend is to seek to prevent crime through mutually trustworthy relationships between the citizenry and the police”.
Rowley said that community police is not really new to Trinidad and Tobago having been introduced some years ago, but added “we intend to embrace it more convincingly as we go forward”.
“I have heard your cries loud and clear. I too feel the national pain and anguish express all too frequently from family members who are subjected to all this frequent horror,” he added.
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