My vision for Trinidad and Tobago: Crime and justice

Steve Alvarez -
Steve Alvarez -

THE EDITOR: There is a passage of biblical scripture that says in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Perhaps it is time to change the focus from the ills that confront TT and seek solutions. To embrace a realistic vision for tomorrow.

What is the vision proposed by the many commentators and politicians for a better quality of life for the citizens of TT? While there are many challenges and areas to address, there is a possibility that the most pertinent at this period of our development is crime and justice, water distribution, road maintenance and economic positioning to meet the demands of a changing world.

Criminal activity cannot be addressed in isolation. It is directly linked to effective policing, economic activities in the community, the effectiveness of the judicial system and social tolerance.

Policing in this country has evolved into a very complex exercise with failures throughout the system. From simple administrative tasks like promotions and appointments to accessing firearm’s permit and certificates of good character. Interacting with the police can be for many one of the most stressful experiences, from poor customer service to, in some cases, language that borders on being abusive.

The solution requires leadership with a different culture. Introduction of modern policing structures that limit the level of human discretion required for decision making and modern police patrol operations.

For example, if a person meets the legal requirements to access a firearm permit, he or she should get it regardless of whether they know someone at certain levels of policing or governance. The discretion of the police commissioner to say yea or nay, despite the person meeting the legal requirements, must be discontinued.

Similarly, when a police unit is sent on patrol, the officers should not have the option of saying what streets they should patrol and what should be left alone. There ought to be a specific patrol route that must be met at certain times daily. These and other operational activities must be official procedures and not subject to personal discretion.

Tied to effective policing must be effective and swift justice. Police personnel put their lives on the line almost every time they make an arrest. That has over time developed into making an arrest almost one of the most dangerous aspects of policing. Criminals with easy access to bail and years of delay in arriving at a verdict for their crime openly threaten the police with impunity.

There must be special courts for threats to life. Those courts must allow for swift or immediate justice and penalties that appropriately address the seriousness of the crime. Such penalties must be a deterrent to would-be criminals. Without a very efficient and time-sensitive judicial approach to serious crimes, the police can become very demotivated.

Water distribution is perhaps one of the simplest solutions to apply. Yet it remains so elusive that many see it as an almost impossible task. I will address that another time as I focus on the vision for TT.


via e-mail


"My vision for Trinidad and Tobago: Crime and justice"

More in this section