GOVERNMENT has failed to protect citizens from the criminal element and this can be seen in a murder spree in which eight people were killed within the space of 24 hours.
In casting blame for the country's crime situation squarely on government, at the UNC's Monday Night Forum, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar paid tribute to one of the victims in the murder spree - theatre arts veteran Raymond Choo Kong who was found stabbed to death at his Arima home earlier on Monday.
Of Choo Kong, a man who spent his life making people laugh and making people happy, Persad-Bissessar told supporters at the Chaguanas East Secondary School, "I am shocked and saddened to learn of this, I join the nation and his family in mourning this local icon, who has tragically been taken away from us much too soon.”
Saying she was outraged by the murder spree between Sunday and Monday last, Persad-Bissessar said "This government thinks throwing their hands in the air and saying, ‘that’s not our job, that’s the job of the police service,’ is acceptable. They are wrong. You are in charge. You have to set the policy and come up with measures to deal with this problem.”
Pointing out the case of Chris Rivers, a 24-year-old woman who was reported missing on Monday July 8, to be found dead in the forests this Monday, Persad-Bissessar said “The Rowley-led Government has failed to get a grip on crime and has failed to ensure that citizens of our country are protected.”
She outlined the way in which a UNC government would reduce crime as dealing with hotspots, create safe zones, re-introduce community policing, ensuring ubiquitous police presence, traffic management, and other strategic actions for a systematic, drastic reduction in crime within defined time frames.
“We will provide resources to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the community as there was a time when the police officer was known to the village, had their respect, even fear, and integrated with community members as a mentor, elder and disciplinarian. He had pride of place in the village. Today, sadly, this is no longer the case,” she said
As a UNC government priority once in office, she plans to work with the police to roll out plan for improving crime detection and ensuring crime prevention so citizens can feel safer in their homes, schools, workplaces and going about their daily activities.
“We propose the introduction of a community and village co-ordination officers programme whereby officers return to walk and talk with members of their communities, serving not only for purposes of intelligence-gathering and crime detection, but for building trust with the communities they serve,” she said
This will be integrated with a technology backbone to ensure a two-way flow of communication, she said, between the police and citizens using various social media platforms.
The UNC, she said will focus on more boots on the ground, ensuring the police are equipped to be present, effective and responsive in all communities.
The opposition plans to use part of the UWI Debe campus for training of our protective services.
“At this campus, law-enforcement officers would be able to pursue certificate, diploma and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees,” she said. There would be legislation to wipe out corruption in the protective services, and a special court to deal with corruption in the public service. The protective services, police, army and regiment, she said would be deployed throughout the entire country to have a 24-hour presence of law enforcement.