Trinidad's PM Reiterates Call for Families to Play Meaningful Role in Crime Fighting

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has warned that Trinidad and Tobago “is in for a long haul” as it relates to criminal activities, especially murders, as he reiterated the need for parents and family members to play a much more meaningful role in the assisting law enforcement agencies curb the spiraling crime situation here.

PNrowleyPrime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley addressing PNM meeting on Tuesday night (CMC Photo)Trinidad and Tobago has so far recorded 379 murders for this year, as compared with 448 for the entire 2021.

The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) has since called on Prime Minister Rowley to dismiss the National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

“I think the time has come for a sensible Minister of National Security to be appointed. Hinds is incapable of doing his job, I don’t make this as a political statement per se, this is a statement of fact, he’s incompetent,” said UNC and Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar

“I call on businesses, civil society, labor, to come out and tell Hinds go, Hinds must go, he must be removed. This affects all of us regardless of political affiliation. Today [it’s] someone else’s child being murdered; tomorrow it could be yours, and therefore we have a collective responsibility to get Hinds out of that job as National Security Minister,” she added.

But as he addressed a meeting of his ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) in Belmont on the outskirts of the capital on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Rowley dismissed the call, reiterating the need for parents to play a more meaningful role in the lives of their children.

“The real problem in this country that is having us in this situation is not who is the Minister of National Security, it is not which party is in office. The real problem is families who know that members of their families are engaged in serious criminal conduct and are not applying the standards that we would expect.

“If you know that members of your family have afforded themselves firearms and they go out at nights after they slept all day and they come back with money when their names are not on any payroll and they could pay lawyers how many hundreds of thousands of dollars when police hold them, you know you are encouraging murderers in your ranks, in your beds, in your house,” Rowley said.

“I am not asking anybody to agree with me. I am telling you there are too many people in this country who have chosen crime as a way of life and living and we have to get away from that. Because if you know who has the gun and the police do not know, who are you protecting.

“And if you take money from your children when they bring money to you when they know that you know that they are engaged in violent crime, including murder, what is the role of the prime minister.

“The government will do what a government will do, but this is going to be one hell of a long haul as long as you are doing and not doing what you should be doing,” Rowley added.

Rowley said nobody can say that Trinidad and Tobago didn’t have an unacceptable level of criminal conduct and violent crime, some approaching senselessness. But he questioned how that would change if the National Security Minister was changed.

“If that was so, it would have changed under the People’s Partnership government (Headed by Persad Bissessar) as they had six national security ministers, plus a state of emergency,” he said.

Rowley said the crime problem was not unique to this country and that Jamaica was buckling down to fight the issue, yet the Opposition Leader, “who has nothing to offer,” says there is “blood on the Prime Minister’s hands and Hinds must go.”.

Earlier, Hinds told the meeting of the various strategies and new measures being implemented by law enforcement authorities to deal with the crime situation, saying also that the justice system also had to play a role in reducing crime.

“…the system works too slowly and in that slowness and in those delays, it gives witnesses time to change their mind, to be killed, for people to come and offer them bribes, for people to threaten them. We have to do a lot better,” Hinds added.