Hinds: Government working hard against crime

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, left, with Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds. -
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, left, with Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds. -

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds said the Government was working very hard to curb crime but private individuals must now each do their part in this effort as he spoke on the Eye on Dependency programme on Radio I95.5 FM on Sunday.

Saying violent crime was not unique to Trinidad and Tobago, Hinds said a friend abroad recently cited the same kinds of crimes in Toronto, Canada as were happening in TT.

"The things he's hearing in TT are no different to what he hears (in Canada) on a daily basis – who gun down who house, who chop who, drugs, all of the social issues.

"That tells me that human beings anywhere, everywhere, do not seem to be getting any better."

Hinds lamented that despite advances in living standards, technology and medical care, some degradation in human behaviour was being seen internationally.

"Man's inhumanity to man is rampant everywhere in the world including TT, where they will feed ten year olds and 11 year old drugs in order to numb their sensitivities and abuse them and run videos for the diet and consumption for the rest of the warped world."

Lamenting human-trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery like that of Africans a few hundred years ago, Hinds said mankind was not getting much better.

He also warned that a more dangerous form of cannabis had been found in TT, where the active ingredient had been increased from a normal/natural level of 27 mg of THC per gramme of cannabis, to 80-85 mg/gramme.

"When the youngsters smoke it, it burst their head. It has them behaving strange."

Hinds said what TT faced was transnational crime, such as guns and cocaine which were not made locally, or girls being trafficked internationally in and out of TT.

He said TT has three major issues. Firstly, regarding productivity he said he did not think all engines were firing.

"Our productivity level is not what it is supposed to be. A lot of services and things that are supposed to get done, don't get done."

Secondly, he said corruption was too rampant in TT, including some perpetrated by individuals shouting the loudest in complaint.

Thirdly, he found there was precious little being done to quietly assess and fix problems, but rather everything was reduced to a bacchanal.

"That is the context in which I work as a Minister of Government, and all ministers."

'TT has potential for greatness, stupidity'

He said TT had much beauty and potential for greatness but also much potential for stupidity.

"All of us created this. This is where we are."

However, he also condemned those individuals who viewed TT's problems as insoluble.

He said his role was at the administrative and policy level, but with implementation to be done by officers and public servants.

Hinds said former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had scrapped the purchase of three OPVS, including the cost of training crew abroad for months.

He chided her for having said the fight was not on sea but on land, whereas in his view, TT's borders must firstly be protected by air and by sea.

Hinds recalled the CariSecure project had been launched, to combat human trafficking, a major problem for TT.

"To stop people bringing trafficking victims in here and to stop people taking out trafficking victims, you need to have some activity on the sea, to catch boats that are coming in, to intercept them. But they (UNC) said the fight is only on the land."

He said under CariSecure, TT was working with the US and other partners, to combat human-trafficking and prevent TT's downgrade on international indices.

"All this might not seem immediate to people being murdered on the streets, but I can tell you that transnational crime generates murders.

"Human trafficking generates turf, money and murders. There's a link with all of it."

He said after the launch of Caricom IMPACS's Gun Intelligence Unit, he had met the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), given that most guns in TT came from the US.

Hinds said working with the ATF allowed a tracing of the origins and journey of an illegal firearm found in TT.

"Not only where it came from but who manufactured it – by virtue of the serial number – who it was sold to, the distribution chain in the US," he explained.

Hinds said Haiti was a Caricom country but a failed state dominated by armed gangs.

"The institutions have melted down in the face of gang activity, showing us what can happen to a country if you don't deal with this gang business, hard and now. It will only grow and you could end up in that kind of situation."

Hinds said he and the Prime Minister had recently met the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which was keen to help TT curb illegal imports of drugs and guns.

He noted that protective officials must be worthy of trust, as he lamented that Haiti's biggest gang leader today was once a police officer.

Hinds said TT also worked with many international partners such as Canada, China and India. TT has done a lot of training against cyber attacks, for prison reform and for the professionalisation of the police service.

Hinds: 2,500 new cameras coming

Asked about police body-cams, he said he had recently bought 192 more, on top of 1,167 previously bought.

"We are well on our way to improve the cameras around TT. That meant contracting to put in a brand new backbone and 2,500 new cameras."

He said things were at an advanced state and very shortly he'd be able to announce all cameras were in place, all over TT.

"We've now put in very modern technologies. We believe they'll do a lot to improve our detection capacity and subsequently the safety and security of the people."

Regarding detection rate, he said 67 people had been charged for murder, with two more likely very soon.

Hinds said a policeman was murdered on Saturday, with his firearm then stolen by his killers.

Lamenting a policewoman using her legal firearm last week to kill her husband and herself, he said, "There are over 100 cases where legal firearms have been abused or misused."

He said soldiers were deployed in the bush and on certain sea fronts.

Hinds recalled traffickers once having to wait five days to enter TT because they knew the Coast Guard was working.

"Soldiers are in the atmosphere."

Hinds said soldiers helped ward off criminals from government development programmes.

He said TT had improved its ballistics/forensic capacity, now being able to use shells or projectiles for detection.

Hinds lamented the destruction caused by automatic weapons but also lamented a cousin recently killing a cousin with a compass.

On familial crimes, he lamented that on Saturday night a man was killed by his close relative.

He said police had found 94 rounds on a crime scene, meaning the criminals had plenty of ammunition.

Hinds said "diversion" meant legal ammunition ended up in illegal hands, as he lamented the import of millions of rounds of ammunition not too long ago.

He said TT's coastal radar was properly working. His recent visit to the Coast Guard command centre revealed modern technology in use, with the USS Burlington commander telling him it was comparable to what was used in the US.

He said new boats would give more focus to river inlets, to curb human and drug trafficking.

Hinds hailed former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi for shifting traffic offences and cannabis cases away from clogging up the criminal law courts.

He said a major gun retrieval was under way by the police and Defence Force, as he urged the public to offer tip-offs, at 800-TIPS.

He said police should treat people well so they'd be more likely to share information which is the lifeblood of policing.

Hinds concluded, "It's easy to point a finger at Hinds. It's easy to point a finger at Dr Rowley, but the reality is we all have a responsibility in this.

"But I give you the assurance that I am executing mine."


"Hinds: Government working hard against crime"

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