Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday described the murder of 14-year-old schoolboy Joshua Andrews as “horrific.” Hinds, who is also a Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs condemned the killing while chairing a public hearing of the National Security Joint Select Committee at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre. Andrews and taxi driver 33-year-old Devon Hernandez were killed in Morvant on Wednesday.
Responding to a comment from former national security minister Overand Padmore about public protests, Hinds said there were no such protests when Andrews and Hernandez were killed. “Not one word,” Hinds said. In contrast, Hinds recalled there was a public protest along the Beetham Highway last year when the police arrested two people. Padmore observed that in TT, “we complain and do nothing.” He warned the country cannot continue to slip into different degrees of lawlessness without some kind of consequence.
Former acting police commissioner James Philbert said the actions Hinds referred to suggests that law enforcement has lost space in some communities to criminal gangs. Philbert said that space needed to be reclaimed. On corruption in the Police Service, Philbert said, “I have had to charge police officers myself.” Describing the Police Service as a unique organisation, Philbert said it has stringent measures to ensure the right people are selected to enter it. However he admitted that because few people are coming forward, the Service has to pick the best of whoever comes forward.
Philbert, now an attorney in private practice, expressed concern about poor management in the Service and situations where 43 police officers failed promotion exams. However he was confident the problems in the Service could be solved. Philbert said the Police Service has a soul and it must not be allowed to die.