National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has called on members of the protective services to step up to the plate and do their jobs in the battle against criminals.
Hinds said yesterday that there are “limping” arms of National Security that are preventing Trinidad and Tobago from winning the war against criminals and added that he believes a major part of the problem is that all cylinders are not being fired at this time.
“I think 40 per cent of us do all the work. If I could mobilise 100 per cent of the Police Service, the Defence Force, the Customs, the Immigration Division, the Fire Service, the Prison Service. If I could only inspire all of us to get up and come alive to the crisis that faces the people who need our protection and get on the job, we would have succeeded. The criminals would find no space,” the Minister charged.
Minister Hinds said law enforcement officials are well aware of who the criminals are and there is no excuse for why they are not being brought to justice.
“We have a good idea who the offenders, the criminals, the shooters, the gun-toters and stashers are in every community. People know, the police who are there, they know so the idea is to go and get them,” he stated.
The Minister added, “We have a responsibility for every square inch of space in this country. There is no place in this country that is out of bounds for law enforcement. None!
“Even when you need a warrant to go in, none!”
Minister Hinds admitted he is concerned by the crime wave hitting parts of the country.
He had summoned law enforcement agencies to a high-level security meeting on Sunday following an upsurge in gang-related activities and murders.
While the Minister remains tight-lipped on the details of the meeting, he noted that there was one card he had to throw on the table.
“The real issue for me which I carried to them was presence because criminals and crime are an opportunistic phenomenon and if the policeman or the law enforcement personnel is present, it is less likely to happen,” according to Hinds.
“I get daily reports from law enforcement and I can see that they have been on the frontline in a real, real way since Sunday based on the strategic directions, we settled,” he further stated.
Asked whether he felt the level of police presence in the communities was not high enough prior to his call, the Minister said, “I wouldn’t say that, I am just saying that where the crimes you just spoke about occur, it means that it is very likely that law enforcement was not present”.
“The more we are present out there, the happier and the more secure we will be,” the Minister expressed.
Acting Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith had confirmed the high-level meeting to Guardian Media on Monday. During a telephone interview, he had indicated that the Police Service is prepared to take back the streets from criminals.
Meanwhile, the killing of alleged Laventille gang leader, Anthony “Boombay” Boney has raised the anxiety of some communities fearing that there would be reprisals.
Minister Hinds said he is aware of these concerns but was told by the various law enforcement agencies that the situation is under control.
“When it becomes necessary, I will summon the leadership of the law enforcement platform and we will talk. Yes, Boombay is my constituent. I know him personally. I know his mother, his sister, I know elements of his family,” Hinds stated.
The National Security Minister said he is pained by the many young men who continue to use crime to put money in their pockets and could not understand why they wanted to choose that life.
“I have seen many young men who I know lost their lives but then, ignorance kills. There are opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago to succeed in journalism, law, politics, in small business,” he said.
The Minister said there was no excuse to resort to crime and urged people to “not be lazy” and look for better opportunities.
“The story is already written. He who lives by it will be lost to it… I know a young man who in the middle of this pandemic over the last year and three-quarter who happily whispered to me that he earned, because of COVID, upwards of a million dollars,” he stated.
‘Boombay’ was murdered in his vehicle on the Uriah Butler Highway on Wednesday.
McDonald Jacob, who is Acting Commissioner of Police while Griffith is on vacation, has since warned that there will be more boots on the ground, especially in and around East Port-of-Spain.