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CRIME-BUSTER PM

News day / With billions of dollars spent over the last 20 years to outfit and equip the Police Service in the hope of a more secure and peaceful environment for all citizens, the Prime Minister said it was time to be “brutally honest with ourselves.” According to Rowley, “There is too much confusion, too much dysfunctionality and outright failure at the many layers at the top to expect the best in the middle and at the base.” Rowley told PNM supporters that even though he is chairman of the National Security Council (NSC), “in this protracted and dire situation, I face tomorrow morning, not knowing who is or will be in charge of the Police Service.” He said the fact the Police Service Commission and senior police officers may not also know thus, “should tell you why we are under performing in our necessary response to the criminal element.” Rowley told his audience it was taking too long to reap the benefits of investments in national security and it was unacceptable to permit, “a small deadly minority” of persons whose idea of a job, “is the snuffing out of the life of the next victim, for a fee” to continue to act with impunity in TT.

NAT’L CRIME DISCOURSE “The time has come to take a fresh look at the model of policing which we have been practising over the years,” he stated. Rowley also said national discourse was essential to find lasting solutions to cut out the growing cancer of crime and where it is deemed necessary, “we are seeking external help.” Reiterating that he heard citizens’ calls for partnering with the police, the Prime Minister said this partnering cannot take place in a vacuum and community oriented policing will be a key part of the PNM’s local government reform agenda.

Rowley declared that if the root causes of crime are going to be addressed, modern day policing requires police officers to get a better understanding of the local communities they operate in from genuine influential business, cultural, social and youth leaders in those communities.

Observing that community policing has been gaining momentum since the 1970’s in many other countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, Rowley asked, “ What has become of the Community Policing Regional Councils which were established right here in TT in the 1990’s?” Reminding PNM supporters of Government’s plans to increase the strength of the municipal police force as part of local government reform, Rowley said this will help communities across the country to be more self-sufficient and proactive in dealing with crime and lawlessness.

He stated the Nationwide Crime Prevention Education and Mobilisation Programme will give every citizen., “from elementary school age and upwards” an opportunity to become involved in finding solutions to deal with crime. Rowley said this programme will bring in other players such as the Church, school, the business community and the trade union movement.

The Prime Minister said issues such as gangs, juvenile delinquency and impact of mass media on crime, must feature in this discussion.

Rowley said the Municipal Police will be strengthened to 1,107 officers, removed from the purview of the Public Service Commission to the Police Service Commission and be, “subject to investigative oversight by the Police Complaints Authority.” He said there will be room for a volunteer corp and he hoped many persons who answer the call to serve.

GOVT SERIOUS ABOUT REFORM Declaring the PNM was “serious as a heart attack” about local government reform, Rowley said there were 11,000 local government employees in Trinidad and despite $16 billion being spent on local government over the last decade, there has been, “not too much improvement in our circumstances.” He promised that all of this will change when local government reform takes effect and the proposed legislation will be coming to Parliament in early 2017. Reminding citizens of his call to them for last September’s general elections, Rowley declared, “I am calling you again.” Saying the PNM will be campaigning all the way to November 28 (election day) on the initiatives in its local government agenda designed to improve the quality of life for the 387,000 households in Trinidad, Rowley quipped this is what distinguished the PNM from the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) who come offering “their basket of deplorables” to the electorate.

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