(TRINIDADGUARDIAN)One religious leader is calling on National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher to break their silence and give the public some kind of assurance and comfort as crime fear continues to grip the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
From brutal home invasions to deadly robberies and even a drive-by shooting on the nation’s highway on Monday night, Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Clive Dottin suggested that no one feels safe anywhere. In fact, he said yesterday, nationals were no longer fleeing T&T to seek better jobs elsewhere, but people were trying to escape the criminal elements who are taking over the country.
Dottin said as violent crime increases, families and business owners have been searching for safe places outside of the country.
He said the time has come for the relevant authorities to wrest back control from the criminal elements.
“The authorities have to confront the criminal elements, the local mafia … and let them know that we will not allow them to win this battle in terms of crime.”
Claiming he had received feedback from many people over the weekend following reports of home invasions at Bejucal and Aranguez which he described as terrible, Dottin said, “There is a level of fear in the society that is horrendous.”
“My analysis as I travelled all over the country for the past three days is that the criminal elements believe they are winning the battle and they are prepared to continue intimidating. They have no respect for politicians. They have very little respect for the police. They don’t care about people’s families and they are recruiting very young people. They have their underground training academies teaching young people how to shoot, and they feel they are large and in charge, and they believe they are about to win that battle to perpetrate crime across the country.”
The outspoken Dottin called on Harewood-Christopher, along with the country’s leaders to give “assurances to the public and form a united front in terms of the Government, church, national security institutions, and the Opposition.”
“We need to show the criminal elements that we have courage, that we have faith in God, and we are prepared to confront them.”
He said we are losing the battle against crime as we continue to operate in silos, “but it is time to unite.”
Dottin said at the same time the authorities must ensure there are positive activities for the youths to get involved in.
The pastor revealed that he had been receiving calls over the last couple of days from senior citizens “who are living in absolute fear in this country.”
Dottin said some homeowners have been imprisoning themselves in their own homes in fear of crime while some business owners were readying themselves to leave T&T.
He urged communities to form neighbourhood watch groups and to try to avoid putting themselves in places to become victims.
This he explained, meant not staying out late, curtailing activities, and taking precautions to ensure properties are secured.
For those that continued to carry on in a cavalier fashion as they have not been personally affected by crime, he said that was “a nonsensical approach.”
To the fearful public, he encouraged, “Have faith in God. Have courage, pray without ceasing and you must be wise, do not take any unnecessary chances, be alert and vigilant.”
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has again called for Hinds to be fired as National Security Minister.
“In the wake of an unholy weekend of murders, home invasions, robberies and disorder, it is abundantly clear that Fitzgerald Hinds has failed as Minister of National Security and must be removed from office,” she said in a media release. Persad-Bissessar said earlier this year, after Hinds presided over the bloodiest January in our recent history, she called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to take action and remove the “clueless, incompetent and negligent Hinds from his Cabinet.”
The Opposition Leader added that this past weekend, which was supposed to be one of peaceful prayer and reflection by members of the Christian faith celebrating Easter, was marred by criminals brutalising and traumatising families in different parts of the country.
“Under Hinds’ watch, the crime situation continues to worsen, and not a single idea, plan, policy, or programme has been put forward to arrest the problem, apart from prayers,” she said.
“Each arm of National Security is in disarray due to Hinds’ incompetence. The Fire Service currently lacks vital equipment to tackle fires in this dry season. Lifeguards continue to clamour for equipment and proper facilities. The Police do not have adequate resources to catch criminals. The Prison Service, the Defence Force, all are in trouble,” she added.