Sunday 1st May, 2005

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Setting records straight on police survey

In a story headlined Cops under microscope in the Sunday Guardian of April 24, your reporter stated that one Prof Mastrofski of George Mason University is paid $5.7 million for a 12-month period, and that one of his recommendations is for “policemen to undergo a survey next month” on matters of police integrity, etc.

All that may be all right, but when your reporter stated that “sources said the survey was the first of its kind in T&T,” we, quite reluctantly, feel obliged to clarify this and a few related matters for the benefit of the public.

We feel compelled—after in-house consultation—to break our discreet silence in this particular instance.

The director of the UWI Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice in November-December 2001 was invited to conduct a rather comprehensive sample survey of all ranks of the Police Service with the support of then Police Commissioner Hilton Guy, the Minister of National Security and the Office of the Prime Minister.

Designed as an empirical basis for improving police integrity, discipline and work performance, this 2001 survey examined officers views on the strengths and weaknesses of their police organisation, the viability of community policing, job satisfaction, crime management, and a set of core policing issues, including, of course, police integrity and discipline.

The report titled A Human Resource Survey of Policing and Organisational Readiness in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service was formally presented to Commissioner Hilton Guy in the presence of his executive officers on August 13, 2002.

The results and 14 recommendations were accepted as a means of following up on a number of policing, human resource and organisational issues. Implementation lapsed. Apparently, nothing was followed up. Maybe the Prime Minister and his two crime advisers are unaware of all this.

It is, therefore, a symptom of what is happening in the Police Service when in the same story your reporter quoted “a member of the police executive” who spoke as if he or she never knew about this 2001 survey or the 240-page report submitted to the Police Commissioner and other officials in 2002.

It would appear that certain senior policemen have been instructed to follow these George Mason consultants around, but when it comes to over-extended public relations, these policemen should know where the line is.

Why is the source of such information so anonymous? Is it public relations officer of the Police Service, Ann Mari Grant?

Who is the “member of the police executive?” Is it ACP Winston Cooper?

If the project is a professional, approved one, why the anonymous sources?

For the record and public benefit, here are some brief results from that police survey done three years ago. We present only a few relevant ones.

o Fifty per cent of the officers surveyed (600) felt the public was dissatisfied with the performance of the Police Service;

o 47 per cent said that their supervisors do not help in developing their skills and abilities;

o 20 per cent said that the use of excessive force is a great problem in the service;

o 31 per cent said that there is a great tendency for officers to cover up the faults of other officers;

o 12 per cent said that drug abuse is a great problem in the service;

o 44 per cent said that alcoholism is a great problem in the service;

o 45 per cent said that disciplinary procedures in the service were ineffective,

o 85 per cent said police work was very stressful.

It is a pity that these results and the attendant recommendations for the positive way forward were left high and dry.

Maybe Vidia Naipaul or Franz Fanon has the answer.

Ian Ramdhanie

Senior research assistant

Time to get our priorities right

Successive governments have been clueless about the continuing escalation of crime in our nation. They would have you believe that it was imported from abroad. The fact is that we are relatively new at running a Government and/or governmental institutions, as we are less than 50 years old. So, we are still practising.

One must be cognisant that government officials are from among the masses and while much is expected of them, a society that is still mired in tribalism finds it difficult to emerge effectively and efficiently from the throes of chaotic social behaviour.

Our nation is not made up of entirely stupid individuals. We have a bit of everything from the good to the bad and indifferent. The problem here is that what is needed does not come from the top. Their examples foster a predatory and reactionary approach to matters that warrant human considerations. In fact, it is difficult to determine where the element of accountability begins or ends.

Crime escalates and nobody knows why. Our infrastructure rots and nobody knows why. The capital city can best be described as a rotting shell of its old self and nobody knows why. As the wealth from our natural resources increases, the decomposition of human life increases and nobody knows why. And the list continues.

It appears as though honest, capable and competent people continue to shy away from Government and as a result, we end up with less than the best. We have always been a corrupt society which predates Independence and that component is now leading us to ruin.

Statistically, I believe that those individuals who make up the overwhelming number of those murdered have been regarded as disposables. Had that not been the case, long-term solutions to the problems affecting them would have been enacted aeons ago.

We pay much attention to mas, fete, bacchanal and the cultural “lime” in which our raw genius emerges.

The legacy that we market abroad is that we are a happy, fun-loving people and I would argue that the same could be said of imprisoned animals residing in a zoo. It is time to get our priorities straight.

Errol F Hosein

via e-mail

Adding to the consumer abuse

I find it distasteful—not to mention the fact that it is illegal—that organisations in T&T are not penalised for false advertising.

A food chain giant in England, which also has representation in T&T, was penalised for actually advertising their burger at a larger size in television commercials.

Similarly, I got all hyped after seeing an ad by a particular store which clearly states: “Buy one item and get a related item for half price.”

After leaving my area to visit one of the stores, thinking I would have a larger variety from which to choose my related item, the sales rep tells me, “It’s on selected items only.”

Nowhere was this stated in the ad.

Could the Consumer Affairs Division do something about this consumer abuse?

Vindra Bridgebassie

via e-mail

Let’s not forget Pixie

From time to time society reaches junctions and crossroads where decisions taken and corners turned influence the lives of generations to come.

The horrendous and senseless death of teenager Radha Pixie Lakhan serves as such an example.

Never must we as a people forget the tragic events surrounding her death.

Never must we allow another innocent child, (or person) to endure a similar fate.

We must act now to take such measures which will serve as reminders now and in the future.

May I start by suggesting the renaming of Spring Trace Siparia, (or another appropriate road), the Radha Pixie Lakhan Road, so that long after we are gone, the memory and story of this young girl will go on.

May she rest in peace.

Dr M Jaggernauth


Costaatt lecturer confusing students

This is an urgent plea to the community at large to assist in doing something about the horrendous situation experienced at Costaatt.

I am a enrolled in the IT programme at Costaatt. Programming is a necessary class in this programme. There are several programming classes that one must take. Most of these classes are lectured by one individual.

The classes are disjointed, confusing, and riddled with contradictions by the lecturer himself.

Listening to this man is akin to reading about war and peace, repeatedly.

Powers that be within Costaatt admit that while some have complained, the complainants are too few to warrant any sort of action against this “tenured” professional, who supposedly went through a stringent hiring process before getting his present job.

They admit that essentially, nothing can be done, also due to the fact that this man teaches several classes, and apparently T&T is short on lecturers with the desired skills to replace him at this time.

Complaints against this lecturer have been rising for at least the past four semesters, with no action being taken other than to alienate the students who speak up; they are branded troublemakers, and students who are essentially not smart enough to keep up.

I beg anyone in the relevant offices to look into this matter. Speak with any student in the IT programme. This “lecturer” has no empathy, especially for those young students who travel from as far away as Point Fortin, Fyzabad, Siparia and Rio Claro to get to PoS by 8.30 am, to sit and learn nothing.

Costaatt student

via e-mail

Pure ‘politispeak’from Manning

Surely, the quote of the week has got to be the recent “grand charge” made by T&T’s PM.

“Prime Minister Patrick Manning says his Government is prepared to lock down the entire country if necessary to deal with the crime problem.”

Trinidad has had major crime problems for two decades now, perhaps longer. Now all of a sudden he’s prepared to lock everything down in order to solve this everlasting problem.

I’m sure the upright citizens of T&T could and would put up with a few days of hardship to regain their once-lawful country.

And so, dear Mr PM, just give us a week’s notice, so we can stock our kitchens with enough food, and then you may indeed lock down the entire country, and let’s weed out the bad Johns.

We can stand the grind in order to achieve real progress.

What a shame all of this is just bluster.

Will it ever happen?

Very likely not.

This is pure “politispeak.”

Even this writer, as a simple-minded Bajan resident, knows it when he sees it.

As Caricom citizens generally, we call your bluff, sir!

David Hunte


Discrimination creeping up

I wish to bring to the public’s attention the matter of age discrimination that has been creeping up in our society.

Recently, I applied to a credit union for a loan to make a trip to attend my grandson’s wedding.

I applied for $2,800 but was granted only $1,200. The reason given: I am too old.

At 78 years of age, I am just as old as Pope Benedict XVI. He was chosen over younger cardinals to administer to 1.1 billion faithfuls.

Where is the justification for denying my request?

God willing, I am going to outlive those who denied my loan request.

Sylvester Simon




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