Sunday 13th January, 2008

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Public really paying for Paul?

POLICE COMMISSIONER Trevor Paul is right. He has every reason to be upset with members of the public who have condemned his decision to enjoy an Old Year’s night party with his wife.

After all, Commissioner Paul, is a true, true Trini and if he chooses to put on a Tribe costume and join Minister Martin Joseph, and take a lil wine—or even a big one—on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, why should anyone be upset?

The only thing we have to ensure is that the Commissioner wines like a Trini, or else everyone should be disappointed.

In this day and age, a lil wine, even if it is on Old Year’s night, could go a long, long way in easing the tension and stress to which some of us are daily exposed.

And believe me, some of the people who are in positions like Commissioner Paul, could do with something that allows them to free up and come down to the level from which you and I operate.

It is almost as if the moment they are given an elite position where bodyguards and other security personnel becomes part of their world, they are closed off from the rest of the society.

In other words, they become disconnected from the citizenry.

It took the Security minister all of four years to realise that “some of” the Government’s crime initiatives were not working.

Imagine murders, rapes and kidnappings rapidly climbing day by day and the minister not aware that crime initiatives were not working. Hello!

Was he in T&T during those four years? I wonder.

But back to Paul.

The Commissioner, as I said before is absolutely within his rights to feel aggrieved by the personal attacks.

After all, he was scheduled to go on pre-retirement leave last year and it was only because we begged him to remain that he is still there.

So don’t you expect him to be in a vacation mode?

The way things are going with the criminal element, if I were the Commish, you could be sure the minute my time was up, I would be dusting my pants and riding out.

But I guess Commissioner Paul is made of sterner stuff.

We begged him to stay and he was kind enough to agree.

What I am kind of worried about is that “crew of garbage collectors” to which he alluded.

Of course, he is right again.

Police officers face some of the most frightening situations. I have seen officers biting their teeth as they are being provoked and showing the patience of Job as they are tested by decadent forces. They took it like men, and emerged from those situations with distinction.

Some risk their lives in shootouts with bandits and are credit to the service. For those officers, we need to give thanks and say a prayer.

But it is at this point at which Commissioner Paul and I go in opposite directions.

I have heard of too many instances of people calling stations to beg for help and their pleas being ignored.

The old story of never having vehicles appears to be a time-proven excuse for officers who are a disgrace to the service. Yet in all my life, I have never heard of any officer being investigated for failing to act in one of these situations unless, as was the case most recently, someone is killed.

I want to ask the Commish what exactly has he, as leader of this crew of garbage collectors, done to inspire his men, to get them to understand their own roles in the communities in which they operate?

We hear of guns coming into the country illegally, drugs making its way into the lives of our youth, more and more corrupt officers and I wonder in this tiny country of ours, why it is that people who want us to believe that they mean well, that they care, can’t deliver on a solution to stop it.

The reality is that the public’s confidence in the service has fallen to unbelievable lows, a level from which if I am hearing Paul correctly, he is saying, there is no hope.

The Commish talks about his own passion and desire to change. I have no doubt he is sincere.

But the wicket on which he is batting is too tricky for someone who is faced with the kinds of challenges to which he is exposed.

I really would like to look at the Commissioner’s term and say I remember something significant about criminal activity that he has dealt with.

The reality though, is there is nothing to which I can point.

So in all fairness, we should let the man fete and enjoy himself. His message was almost clear enough to suggest he is fed-up and tired of having to deal with thrash.

I guess that if you too, had to deal with the kind of garbage he has to confront every day, one Old Year’s Night fete, would never be enough to stop the stench!

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