SAYING the recent upsurge in murders was unacceptable, Minister of National Security Stuart Young on Sunday implored citizens to help get guns off the street by making reports to Crime Stoppers. ACP Jaysen Forde backed him, saying, “We can’t do it alone.”
Young briefed reporters at his ministry on Sunday, where Chief of Defence Staff Air Commodore Daryl Daniel also spoke.
Young said he had earlier met the Prime Minister and Crime Stoppers to launch a new initiative. “We require the assistance of citizens to have breakthroughs.
“I’m happy today to say one of the initiatives we will be rolling out is with respect to illegal firearms. We will be offering rewards through the Crime Stoppers programme where persons can call in anonymously and provide law enforcement through Crime Stoppers with information and intelligence to help us locate cachets and stashes from one upwards of illegal firearms and ammunition in TT.” He said Government would fund the initiative.
“If we successfully search and recover, as a result of information provided by you the citizens of TT, cachets of illegal firearms, we are prepared to offer rewards for that.”
He said it would all be worked out in the next few days with Crime Stoppers.
“You, the citizens of TT, very frequently witness and see crimes taking place or the criminality taking place in your communities. We are today re-energising, reinvigorating and also requesting that you utilise Crime Stoppers, as an anonymous initiative to provide us with the information that we need to get some further breakthroughs with crime taking place across TT.”
He said it was impossible for citizens not to witness those crimes.
“We are not asking you at this stage to come forward and give evidence (but) let us utilise these anonymous tip-off points like Crime Stoppers to provide us with the information.”
Young again urged citizens to give tip-offs against criminals. “Tell us where the illegal firearms are stored. We’ll get them, and you will remain safe. Tell us the criminal activities in your communities for us to stomp on. We’ll make inroads into fighting crime in TT.”
Asked if Crime Stoppers would fix crime in TT, he replied, “There is no one fix to crime in TT. We want to take firearms off the street and close down the borders.”
Young then asked the public to back two recent bail and firearms bills.
Saying the first would deny bail for 120 days to repeat offenders of illegal possession of firearms, Young said, “The vast majority are repeat offenders. Keeping them in jail is going to help us.” Of the second bill, he said it would expressly outlaw gun-running, raise fines and for a second offence impose a prison term. “This is not draconian. This is what our society requires at this time.”
Asked to rate the performance of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith who nears his first anniversary in office, Young said he had brought a new energy to the crime fight, but also praised Forde’s efforts among others, adding, “It does not come down to one man.”
Young otherwise promised to boost the country’s 360 degree radar system by a $2.8 billion upgrade.
He again ruled out any state of emergency for TT saying that was like throwing up your hands in the air to surrender. Young promised not to rest in the fight against crime.
Pressed about the past week, Young said, “I don’t think the Government has lost the war on crime. The past seven days were unacceptable.”
He said he had not seen a purported Special Branch report which had said PNM-run regional corporations had awarded contracts to gangsters.
“Provide us with the information and intelligence. Government must not fund criminals state contracts.”
He told a reporter fearmongering was not the solution to crime, for which each citizen had a role to play.
Forde said the police had arrested 100 people and seized 25 firearms this weekend, many of which were high-powered rifles.
He said the DPP was guiding the police to probe gangs. Forde said, at present, some criminals could not be arrested yet because inquiries sat at a sensitive stage.
He added, “We will soon be arresting persons and putting them before the court en masse.”