A BOTCHED kidnapping ending in horrific death, murderers on the rampage in the capital city, women slaughtered; the killers of this nation have taken the measure of Gary Griffith and found him wanting.
That’s one perception floating around as we grapple yet again with the prospect of new lows on the crime front. After all, tough-talking Debble G invited a traumatised public to “judge me by the murder toll.” It was a foolish emission of bravado, a cheque that was bound to bounce.
People lulled themselves in to the nonsensical belief that one man could arrest violent crime. It was self-deception ably abetted by the commissioner himself who actively cultivates the gunslinger image. Still, while there is legitimate criticism for Griffith, we must be reminded that stopping the bloodshed was never a one-man show.
So it’s unfair, and simplistic, to pin all our failures on him. To a certain extent, though, the commissioner is getting in his own way with intemperance and a generally choleric demeanour.
A thin-skinned attitude that doesn’t brook criticism or even advice isn’t useful. Setting aside his grating style and conflicts with the media and legal fraternity, it’s highly likely the commissioner hasn’t had the support he needs.
Let me be clear, while I’m uncomfortable with Gary Griffith’s approach, I still believe he’s the right man for the job. We are already in better hands with him just for his determination to do something, anything, to take on violent criminals. That’s more than previous commissioners were prepared to do, except for “de white men” Gibbs and Ewatski.
The commissioner can challenge criminals. However, there’s nothing he can do to combat the lethargy of governance and breathtaking incompetence.
We only need to listen to the Government’s official response to soaring crime to realise the real threat to our security – the Government of TT. In a recent interview, the Prime Minister suggested that the public should not judge the Government on the murder toll alone. Dr Rowley has nothing to worry about in that regard.
The Government is also being judged for presiding over the irrevocable decline of the economy, rising unemployment, sabotage of the sea bridge, abysmal performance and a bottomless bran tub of disappointments.
The Prime Minister should, however, be reminded that his Government campaigned heavily on promises to bring crime under control. Everything the nation is experiencing at the moment suggests the Government has not only failed on that front, but it hasn’t even tried.
One would have expected Rowley would have, at least, put citizens’ minds at ease, perhaps exude confidence that everything is in hand. Inspiring confidence, though, has never been the PM’s strong suit. Indeed, we’re approaching the end of this Government’s term in office and we are yet to discover what his strong suit is. That would be alright if there were others in the Cabinet the PM could count on to grapple with crime. That is not so.
At the post-Cabinet briefing last week the minister of insecurity Stuart Young raised the spectre of shadowy puppeteers guiding the hands of murderers to destabilise the society. “...who is it that stands to derive the most benefit from sudden spikes in the murder rate and the narrative of a murder rate in an upward direction?” the minister asked.
As for his referencing a “narrative” of a murder rate, the bodies piling up at the Forensic Science Centre suggest this might be more than a narrative.
Now Minister Young was being deliberately obtuse by talking about “certain individuals” (although, obtuseness may be Young’s strong suit). When pairing his most recent conspiracy theory, however, with his repeated suggestion that the Opposition is in league with criminals, the minister’s narrative is quite clear.
That raises another question – when the PP government was under fire for its poor handling of runaway crime, was it then directing criminals to destabilise the very society it was responsible for governing?
To be hearing this sort of nonsense from a minister of national security in the face of the complete breakdown of law and order is more terrifying than criminality itself. The Government is still pointing fingers at the Opposition while citizens are being exterminated every day. This can only be interpreted as an admission of failure and an absence of answers.
The minister’s responses to the media on the state of crime in TT offered no comfort to the nation...which is a comfort to murderers everywhere.