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Society too violent

By Vashtee Achibar Sunday, January 10 2016

click on pic to zoom in

A violent society. This is how Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams described Trinidad and Tobago as he sought yesterday to zero in on the cause of the recent spike in murders in the country.

“What we need to do as a society is to focus on the societal problem of violence,” Williams told Sunday Newsday. “Trinidad and Tobago has become a very violent society. We express violence for the simplest things. Imagine a man arguing with someone he knows over a gyro and it ends in murder.” The Acting Police Commissioner went further with a stirring plea to the citizenry “to work together to keep the numbers (homicides) down.” Williams’ comments came as the Opposition disclosed plans to take the issue of crime to the Parliament when it sits tomorrow.

With a mere ten days into the New Year the murder toll has already climbed to 17, following a killing in Laventille last Friday night, but Williams is arguing that it is not higher than last year or the year before.

Insisting that every single murder is one too many, Williams expressed the view that there’s been a trending in homicides since 1999.

“Counting the murders is painful,” he said. “We should feel pain when anyone dies,” he added but he felt it must go beyond that.

“Every citizen has a responsibility to contribute positively: the churches, schools, parents, neighbours, to the development of Trinidad and Tobago,” the Acting Police Commissioner said, asking in the same breath, “How do we trigger the interest in citizens to contribute to make a difference?” Williams revealed that despite the record high number of gun seizures - 685 guns for 2015 - the murders continued unabated.

He is proposing what he calls “collective efficacy” where the entire society must come together to deal with crime.

“We must ensure community life, so we don’t see each other as enemies but as friends,” the Acting Police Commissioner said.

“We have to start caring for each other. If we look at the criminal element in T T, it’s a minority, so we have to work together to prevent crime from happening.” And with the number of murders surpassing the number of days into the New Year, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed yesterday that she will be taking the issue to Parliament tomorrow.

“I intend to file a question on Monday in Parliament for the Government to tell us their plans, what they intend to do with this spike in crime especially in the murder rate,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday. “We have given them suggestions in the past.

They keep saying that the population rejected us and therefore they do not want to hear our suggestions.” Raising concerns once again about Government’s plans to tackle the issue of the spike in crime, in particular, murders, Persad-Bissessar emphasised that since the Dr Keith Rowley- led administration is “now in charge”, they must inform the public about what they intend to do about the issue.

During the People’s Partnership (PP) general election campaign, Persad-Bissessar had announced some of the plans to be implemented if the coalition were returned to power. She had publicly stated that the then PP administration “remained committed to ridding our country of the blight of crime and to preserving law and order”. In that campaign, crime and law and order, they identified as “the number one issue” facing the country.

As such, the party said it would have been “top priority” had the PP been re-elected a second term in office. Additionally, the PP administration had promised to put emphasis on more effective law enforcement, policing and border control. The Opposition Leader charged: “Any time the PNM is in power, the crime escalates.

“If you look at the empirical evidence, you will see. The crime rate just goes out of control. Their approach is the population rejected you and your suggestions.” Less than an hour into the New Year, six-year-old Jodel Ramnath met his death in the hands of gunmen at Beetham Gardens, Port-of-Spain.

Alvina Warner, 69, was also shot in the same incident and died at about 10 am that day.

Later that same night Ravi Maniedeo, 27, was shot and killed near his home at Old Longdenville Road, Chaguanas. Day two of 2016 was murder-free but the following day, January 3, Orcale Smith, 25, was shot dead in Sangre Grande.

Within one week, January 4 to 8, 12 persons were killed. They include David Richards, 27, Randy Boodhan, 31, Renny “Stunners” Castillo, 28, Quincy George, 27, “John Doe” Joseph Maloney, 31, Matthew Simmons, 31, Oswald Bailey, 27, Sedal “Mouse” Samuel, 22, Sham “Bobby” Maharaj, Sheldon Matimoro, 46, and Kwasi Solomon, 23.

And last Friday night, Randy Richards, 37, was gunned down at Snake Valley, Laventille.

Efforts to contact, the Prime Minister, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi for comment yesterday proved futile as calls went unanswered.



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