crimefighters take a break
and robbery will clearly not take a break for Christmas, but
maybe we can be allowed some gallows humour with which, as
it were, to wash down reported episodes that are harder than
ever to swallow.
Crime and the alleged police response are still
part of the same story. In the New Year, this story is liable
to change, as attitudes, especially in high-end, victim communities,
harden in favour of adopting maybe vigilante self-defences.
Theres nothing funny about the experience of the Reg
Potter, 65-year-old former oilman and critic of present energy
policy, who was shot by intruders at his Glencoe residence.
Details of that potentially fatal robbery, including the beating
of his wife and son, read like a cautionary tale.
In todays T&T, people still hoping for relatively
untroubled enjoyment of life and property must be taking pessimistic
advice about what to do, beyond installing surveillance cameras.
every home up this hill has been attacked by bandits,
and some homes had been hit twice in three years, Mr Potter
told the Guardian.
Western Division Insp Anthony Lezama assumed the posture of
big-picture detachment from the perils of life in hilltop
In north-west Trinidad, he affirmed, the police have recorded
no increase in robberies, but an increase in complaints by
residents calling for patrols.
Having thus defined the problem and deemed it under control,
the police may themselves be taking a Christmas break.
At Four Roads station last Monday, apart from the inspector
in charge, just one officer turned up for work.
How many, I asked my source, make up the full strength at
that station covering a heavily-populated Diego Martin area?
Four, came the reply, with a grim chuckle.
The crime insurgency remains full-blown, but effective police
capacity remains at what looks like at best half-strength,
with the flag of morale flying lower than half-mast.
Criminals know the reality from which the official line seeks
to avert the eyes of the public.
From inspector on up to Cabinet Minister, the policy is to
deny rather than to acknowledge that, when theyre needed
most, the police are simply not there.
Years of failure to recruit and pass out officers
are telling pitifully. Almost always, roads and highways remain
unpoliced; stations are staffed by laughable handfuls of officers.
At Penal two weeks ago, when Marilyn Abdool called to report
bandits actually kicking down her door, none of the two officers
on duty could respond.
Weeks before that, as a near-riot broke out there,
Vessigny Beachgoers cellphoned all the stations within reach.
Only two officers were holding the fort in each. To combat
threatening anarchy, none could be spared.
dont know anything about that, Commissioner Trevor
Paul told a Guardian reporter who asked about the short-staffed
stations. I will have to enquire.
At the stations, junior officers are ready and willing to
disclose they have neither the personnel nor the vehicles
to do their work.
Up the khaki-clad ranks, what increasingly qualifies them
as senior is the ability to deny, and to spin PR abstractions
and big-picture explanations.
Lacking equipment and staff, local-area officers are unable
to nab local-area bandits. But the public is assured that
transformation of the police is underway, and
such forces as are available are being redeployed in sonorously-titled
The disconnect widens between the low levels of performance
clearly visible to the public and the Martin Joseph show-and-tell
of statistics claiming falling rates of homicides
Newspaper readers are likely to attribute the return of the
kidnapped Debbie Singh-Ali more to answered prayers and public
entreaties than to the intervention of much-touted anti-kidnapping
Mrs Singh-Ali will have returned to her home in Roystonia
Gardens, Couva, where bandit exploits have lately become the
stuff of light-hearted legend.
Since August, ten break-ins have been recorded in the new
owners toil at work, said one Express report, thieves
are breaking into their homes. And taking their time
At one house, intruders spent a day relaxing on a living-room
couch, thumbing through the owners wedding album, and
making selecting action DVD movies to leave with.
With homeowners away, uninvited guests helped themselves to
pelau from the fridge, and even mixed mauby concentrate to
wash it down.
Better still, another resident marvelled at the extent to
which a burglar had made himself at home.
The intruder had cooked and eaten lunch, borrowed a toothbrush,
taken a shower, and finally changed into new clothes belonging
to the absent host.
Such near-affectionate pictures of homely, neighbourhood burglars
are no doubt shared by the police.
police said similar burglaries have taken place at nearby
houses, reported the paper, which added that investigations
The Roystonia crime pattern is not (yet) that of bloody-minded
death squaddies eliminating rivals.
The victim who suffers a violation no more serious than having
to share a toothbrush, pelau and some clothes with an unknown
intruder may yet preserve some good humour.
Being of good cheer, if not making peace with the crime insurgency,
can appear an appropriate counsel for these times when the
police themselves appear to be casually engaged, if at all,
even in serious high-profile cases.
At the fiasco of the Yasin Abu Bakr retrial, some officers
simply didnt show up to testify. Those who did qualified
for negative reviews by Justice Mustapha Ibrahim as he threw
out the case:
police were not straight... Some had changed their evidence,
and Sgt Fordes evidence was bizarre.
Dick did not testify at this trial... Cpl Veronique was present
at three interviews, but did not hear what was said...
Sgt Lucas was present at one interview, made notes, but left
for Miami on the morning he was to testify.
If yet back from Miami, the sergeant can be imagined enjoying
his break, and much like the Imams again, lucky, well-earned,