The seriousness and prevalence of crime in TT has not been lost on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he detailed his own encounter with criminals during his Independence Day toast to the nation yesterday. He described an incident when a knife-wielding bandit broke into his own home and confronted him and his wife Sharon, when she was pregnant, almost two decades ago.
Rowley shared the experience during his visit to the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port of Spain, in which he responded to critics who accused him of living in an "ivory tower."
He maintained he was still in touch with the plight of law-abiding citizens and was well aware of the challenges facing citizens, particularly, as it relates to crime.
"I do not live in an ivory tower, I live on the streets of TT, I live on the beaches, I live in the forests, I know this country. So when I speak to you about your national challenges, I know them. I live them. I can tell you, 30-odd years ago that I had the personal experience of having a wife next to me, seven-months pregnant, and a man with a dagger entering my bedroom at one o'clock in the morning. I know that feeling.
"I know the fear of crime. I know that crime is nothing new in TT. Today, criminals don't use daggers, they use guns and some use their hands, their fingers."
He did not say if the bandit was ever found and arrested.
Rowley also responded to calls for removal of the Sedition Act, and said the argument that it should be removed on the basis of its age was not good enough and contended that other laws ought to be removed given their age.
"The biggest conversation in TT today is how old the Sedition Act is and how it should be removed, but if that is how we approach it, let's get rid of the trespass act, that's kind of old too. Let's get rid of the act that makes murder a crime.
"It's not about how old the law is, or about its colonial origin, like most of our laws are, it's about what it stands for. I don't want to get involved in the inner workings of the court but as the population is excited about getting rid of the Sedition Act, is it the act itself that is the problem? Or is it alright for a citizen, a head of one sector of the country to make disparaging, hurtful and damaging statements and say it is my right and freedom to say so."
Rowley reminded citizens that police officers make great sacrifices to ensure their safety and pledged to offer continued support in their fight against crime, by ensuring adequate resources were available to them.
"It is up to you officers, particularly the managers of these systems to ensure that what resources we make available to you, you apply those resources to your own resource which is your attitude and integrity.
"If you apply those resources there is no mountain you cannot climb successfully."
He reminded officers that they had a duty to enforce the laws of TT without fear and favour and said he was pleased with the performance of the police service.