Fixing crime via local govt

In this file photo, police officer stands guard as crime-scene investigators examine the site of a murder on Nelson Street, Port of Spain on July 11. - Photo by Anisto Alves
In this file photo, police officer stands guard as crime-scene investigators examine the site of a murder on Nelson Street, Port of Spain on July 11. - Photo by Anisto Alves


THE OCCASION is perfect at this time for the competing political parties to show their relative competence at governance while at the same time addressing the crime problem and implementing local government reform.

What am I referring to? It is the proposed attempt at getting the Government and the Opposition to meet to discuss strategies to treat with the crime situation. As one political analyst has stated, it is very unlikely that the Opposition will sincerely assist the Government to reduce the crime surge, which no doubt will be a very powerful topic for the next general election.

Crime and the incompetences of those responsible for dealing with it are trump cards that the Opposition may not so readily discard, for it will be like chopping off their nose to spoil their face. I am certain the Opposition is wishing at this moment that the general election was next Monday.

However, this attempt at a unified approach to crime reduction may turn out to be not just a show, but a big pappyshow at that.

What I would like to propose instead is an approach that will give the competing political parties the opportunity to show their relative worth at governance, in particular at addressing the crime situation at the local government level.

The intention here is for the State to provide the 14 corporations (seven PNM and seven UNC) with proportional and hopefully adequate resources to manage their affairs, including that of crime reduction.

And if this can be best facilitated through local government reform, then the Opposition should see the benefit of supporting and thus expediting the transformation process.

Having been provided the necessary resources, these corporations will then be responsible for managing their affairs, which ought to include augmenting their municipal police forces to deal with (together with other things) the issue of gun violence in public and private spaces.

This will thus require the respective corporations to solicit and employ suitably competent people to manage their municipal police units and there is where the sheep will be separated from the goats.

So if either one of the political parties chooses to hire incompetent people to lead their municipal police units because they look politically attractive or are impressive speakers but are clueless in crime-fighting strategies, and the local populace is willing to accept that level of incompetence and sacrifice their own safety in favour of political loyalty, then so be it. The chips will fall where they may, as it is often said the people get the government they deserve.

As far as I see it, crime should be addressed two-fold: by a police presence through sustainable and co-ordinated police patrols and exercises, together with community social activities to foster improved community relations, both requiring effective and competent leadership.

I know of people who have shown themselves quite capable in both fields but have been overlooked due to political expedience. Maybe through this they may be approached and given the opportunity to serve their communities for the best interest of the general society.

Clement Marshall is a retired police officer


"Fixing crime via local govt"

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