T&T: Murder 2018 and the Fitness of State Agencies to Police the Crisis

Murder in T&T 2018 and Institutional Collapse

In 2008 T&T recorded its highest number of murders ever with 550 murders recorded. In 2018 T&T recorded 301 murders in 198 days or an average of 1. 5 murders per day for that period which surpasses the number of murders recorded in 2008 for the same period (Daily Express 18 July 2018). This then is a crisis of endemic especially gun violence which calls for an end to the talk of solutions for the issue now is the worthiness of the policing agencies of the State to deal with this crisis of violence. Two news reports in the daily press have provided revealing insights into the capacity of two key State policing agencies to grapple with this crisis of violence. The endemic gun violence is driven by smuggled guns into T&T which demands that Customs & Excise and the T&T Police Service respond to curtail illicit guns: the supply side, the illicit gun market of T&T and illicit gun possession. There can be no effective assault on supply without Customs & Excise for this is the entity under law charged with the task of stemming the flow of, the illicit entry of uncustomed goods into T&T. No other entity has such powers under law over the territorial boundaries and the space contained therein of T&T. A Daily Express article of 29 June 2018 reported that the top 42 position of the Customs & Excise Division are vacant. The acting Comptroller of Customs was quoted as follows: “Of course, we are only acting in positions. There are no supervisors, no collectors, no assistant comptrollers, no deputy comptrollers and no comptroller. We are all Customs & Excise Officers 111 acting in higher positions.” The acting Comptroller indicated that the establishment of the Division was 450 officers but at present they were short of their establishment by 182 officers but there is a grave structural impediment to recruiting the 182 officers as follows: “And unless we can move the base, which is Customs & Excise Officer 1, most of whom are acting, unless we can move them up to the two higher levels, we cannot have any intake.” Customs & Excise is now stuck in stasis in a state of paralysis which when matched to its duty to T&T under law amounts to collapse, to a grave crisis and constituting a clear and present danger to national security. The Sunday Express of 15 July 2018 reported on the issue of vacancies and promotions to fill those vacancies in the TTPS which is the sole prerogative of the Commissioner of Police unlike the case with the Customs & Excise Division. The article focused on this issue with the First Division of the TTPS and stated that the entire first division is in acting positions with a significant number of them due for pre-retirement leave then retirement. This reality then pervades the entire establishment of the TTPS illustrated by the statements made on promotions by the Police Social and Welfare Association concerning its membership. The structure is clogged with acting appointments which when combined with the failure to promote and confirm persons in posts there can be no succession planning to ensure an orderly transfer of authority vitally necessary for institutional continuity. What will then happen is a near total departure of members of the first division within a short space of time which will then create voids that will be filled with acting appointments some for multiple posts above your substantive post which heightens the constipation that afflicts the career track of all members of the TTPS and their final pension benefits upon retirement. This career constipation directly contributes to on the job dissatisfaction and frustration of employees. This reality is a crisis within the TTPS which directly impacts the ability of the TTPS to respond effectively to the crisis of violence. The society demands that the members of the TTPS engage with armed criminals on a daily basis, to put their lives on the line on a daily basis whilst working conditions we will not accept are considered normal for them and insist that this reality must not impact their morale. That is simply speaking from the mouth of massa!

Both strategically critical policing agencies are then in crisis, dysfunctional and exhibiting signs of collapse. This reality must be viewed in the context of the threats posed to these institutions by transnational and organised crime who are relentless in their attempts to recruit members of both agencies to their service. When you have institutions that are sending the message to its employees that their welfare and security during their employment and in their retirement is not its primary interest there are employees who will interpret this message as an incentive to seek their own personal interest rather than that of the institution and nation. The institution is inviting and motivating individuals to utilise their post with the institution for their own personal benefit otherwise known as corruption. In an operating condition as this the immune system of the institution is hard pressed and incapable of resisting the relentless assault of organised crime to render the policing functions of the institutions inadequate in the face of criminal activity. There is then a grave need for deep seated change and a change process in both agencies towards ensuring their relevance to the reality of violence in T&T.  Not a manufactured reality of crime and violence premised on denial and delusion that serves the agenda to plaster up the running sores of both agencies in a bid to have them present public postures of denial and delusion for the consolation of those who live in bubbles. Business as usual is simply not cutting it in 2018!

Evade all the well-worn and dusty talk of causes and deal with the functional efficiency of the policing agencies of the State, for they are in deep crisis, thereby ensuring that the human resource is of the required quality, motivated and outfitted for the task of engaging with our crisis of violence. To ensure this the politicians must now do what is necessary for that is what they were voted in to do nothing less past, present and future. Click the link for the news paper articles

References Newspapers T&T


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