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How much further are we going to sink?

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The last two weeks were something else… Four murders had been committed, including that of a young police officer.

Then, as if that was not enough, news surfaced about a policewoman being robbed and beaten as she awaited transportation to work. As I write, I am hearing reports of at least one other death, although the circumstances surrounding it are not known to me. Then, to top all this, it appears that a female police inspector is being threatened because of comments related to the death of her colleague.{{more}} Now, what next? For when the police become victims of attacks and threats, then there is no turning back. The police are here for our protection and have to be supported.

The murder of the young police officer at a primary school fair at Belmont allegedly by a young man who tried to enter the fair without paying is shocking and must be condemned.

To speak of police brutality and to condone a crime based on that is not an issue here. That is a matter for a different forum and time. The disorder and loss of respect that I have been writing about are being manifested all around. To reach the stage of threatening, brutalizing or murdering those given the task of enforcing the law shows we are out of control.

There are several things to chew on. The incident took place at a primary school fair, where there were obviously many young students around. Did the alleged perpetrator of the dastardly act take a knife to the fair? If so, it introduces an entirely new dimension. One consequence of this is that police sent to perform duties at such functions are now likely to be armed. What will follow is any one’s guess. How would parents feel sending their young children to school functions? What are the consequences for the school?

This is the 11th homicide of the year and we are only into the fifth month. There are those who continue to mouth nonsense to the effect that murders happen in other countries, so what? This thinking is disgusting and springs from a warped mind. Judged on a per capita basis, this is high. Additionally, regardless of what happens elsewhere, we have to be concerned about our country and deal speedily and forcefully with these matters. This calls for special attention, since the perpetuators of such crimes seem to think that they could get away with their dastardly acts. Is it possible to set up a special, high-powered police unit to tackle the rising crime? This is so serious that it must be given urgent attention. More resources have to be put in this area.

Some people are literally too afraid to leave their homes at nights since, as we hear so often, innocent people are becoming victims because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or at the right place at the wrong time. It is no longer enough to be shocked. We have to go beyond that and urgently develop the means of dealing with crime and disorder. I hope that some of us are not complacent because our friends or relatives have not been affected. In situations like these, we have to remember Martin Niemoller’s poem, “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak up because I was not a Socialist”. Then, of course, when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up. Crime in a small society like ours is serious business, especially when police officers are targeted. The time for re-examining the work of those given the responsibility for fighting crime is now overdue. Resources and training have to be significantly and immediately increased. The criminals have moved on to a different plane and the police and security forces have to be well prepared to deal with the new tools now in the hands of the criminal mind.

May Day

I have followed Labour Day celebrations in Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St Kitts/Nevis. I tried in vain to find out what was happening at home. The only report I heard of, an activity that appeared to have taken place in the car park, was a statement to the effect that better days are coming for the working people, or something to that effect. Well, talk is cheap and easy! How often have we heard this? Well, let us see what is at stake for those who are already sucked to the ground in all areas. The fact that the activity, whatever it was, took place in the car park tells its own story. Workers in the countries I have mentioned used the occasion to highlight the issues affecting them. We somehow do not seem to have issues. One interesting development was in Grenada, where the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service Union joined their colleagues for the occasion. Let us hope that this sends a signal about the need for working people in the region to get together. But of course, we need to start at home!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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