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Total contempt

Wednesday, October 29 2008

Kimberly Monderoy, a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Diego Martin, could not have known that she would be killed when she went to a nearly parlour at 5.30 pm last Sunday. She was probably thinking only of the task at hand — to get some bread, or a soft drink, or whatever she was going to the shop for — and perhaps the usual things teenagers think about — music, fashion, schoolwork. And, as she was walking to the parlour on Cuthbert Circular at Four Roads, two groups of men who were having an argument drew guns and began shooting. In the cross-fire, Kimberly was shot in the chest. She died at the Seventh-Day Community Hospital in St James half-an-hour later.

And what of the men who shot her? No one was held at the scene, and some time later officers of the Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT) cordoned off the area and instituted a search for the men. We will note only in passing the irony of a unit whose legality is obscure searching for criminals, but we observe this in the context of the clear contempt these murderers have for the forces of law and order.

Not only did this incident occur at a relatively busy thoroughfare, but the gang members were not the least bit bothered by the fact that it was still daylight. They were confident that they could have their shootout before the police could respond, vanish into the surroundings with little chance of being caught, and with an even smaller chance of being identified by any eyewitnesses. And this is so even though, by having their gun battle in the midst of this junction, the men were also displaying their murderous disregard for their very neighbourhood they probably come from. If any of them spares a thought for the girl they killed, it will probably be some synonym of “collateral damage”.

And this, after all, seems to be how the people in authority are viewing the crime situation. For all their rhetoric about being concerned about crime, the politicians have not backed up their words with the kind of action which would show that they are indeed serious.

If they were serious, there would already have been an investigation into the role of the Unemployment Relief Fund (URP) into gang rivalries.

The assumption about this role may be wrong, but a serious Government would have investigated it, if only to eliminate it as a factor.

Instead, the Government’s inaction, in tandem with Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s meetings with so-called community leaders, have left the party open to charges of collusion with criminal elements. Yet the PNM’s leaders are unbothered by this.

In respect to the Police Service, Acting Commissioner James Philbert seems intent on improving the service of his officers. But a crucial aspect of this is setting up an independent body to investigate errant officers — a measure that was supposed to be in place in 2007.

The Government talks about all kind of legislation, including law to incorporate SAUTT into the security agencies, except this one. Yet how can law and order be maintained in TT if the police are not respected and professional and legitimate?

These are only a few of the actions a serious administration would take.

No such measures have been instituted. So the PNM regime can talk all it likes about Vision 2020, but as long as a 13-year-old girl cannot safely go to the corner parlour, all such talk is empty wind.

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