Ex-ACP on murders: 'Sleeping tiger' has awoken in Tobago

Ex-Tobago ACP William Nurse. - File photo
Ex-Tobago ACP William Nurse. - File photo

FORMER Tobago ACP William Nurse said a "sleeping tiger" has awoken in Tobago, leaving a trail of blood and violence.

Nurse was speaking to Newsday on July 8, approximately 12 hours after a triple murder in Black Rock pushed the island's 2024 murder toll to a record 15. There were 14 murders in 2023.

In a 2022 interview with Newsday, Nurse, who was stepping down as Tobago ACP, warned that there were 20 criminal gangs on the island.

"There is an area in Tobago that goes unsuspected of producing criminals. And about 70 per cent of Tobago's most notorious criminals live in that area. That is Golden Lane, Les Coteaux and those places," he said, adding that there were smaller gangs in Lambeau and Government House Road.

Nurse said on Monday that his 2022 interview was not well received and he does not believe  the issues he raised were properly addressed.

"Immediately after that interview, I was called by a senior police (officer) who attempted to chide me for putting that info in the public domain," he said.

Nurse said he refused to back down for telling the truth.

"Tobago has been a sleeping tiger for some time. And while that was happening the criminals were building their fortress."

He said it was important to understand the complexity of the problem.

"You can't police people if you don't understand the people that you are policing.

"A number of Tobagonians left for Trinidad and even further, and their children are coming back and linking with people now."

He said returning members of the diaspora were exposed to criminal behaviour abroad and are now fine-tuning it with other "deviants" on the island.

He said he is not surprised about the explosion in gun violence on what has been traditionally a peaceful tourist destination.

"If I were to borrow a statement from Dr Morgan Job, when he delivered a lecture on inflation, he said inflation is like the growth of a snake in the 'mang.' It's nothing to play with. Crime is worse than the growth of a snake in the 'mang.' Crime is nothing to play with."

He said the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) "has been left impotent" in the fight against crime. "Those who were in power– NAR, PNM, People's Partnership – not one of them did anything for the THA.

"From inception of THA, on December 4, 1980, no consideration was given to THA to have any form of security (apparatus)."

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has tried to address this by proposing the formation of a THA police unit. In his budget statement last month, Augustine said his attorneys have perused the THA Act and given him the legal green light to proceed.

On July 8, the Prime Minister revealed that a National Security Council meeting will be held in Tobago on July 9. Dr Rowley said Augustine was invited to the meeting, which will also include Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and top cops.

Asked about recent attempts to combat the surge in gun violence in Tobago, Nurse said he welcomes the initiatives and hopes all parties work together to arrest the situation.


"Ex-ACP on murders: ‘Sleeping tiger’ has awoken in Tobago"

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