Businessman on guards’ call for high-powered guns: NO THANKS TO ARMS RACE WITH BANDITS

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Derek Chin. –

BUSINESSMAN Derek Chin warned against any arms-race between security guards and robbers, commenting on recent calls for guards to be given high-powered firearms to match those used by some criminals. He instead wanted crime tackled at the root, offering several diverse strategies.

He spoke to Newsday on Wednesday as head of Telecom Security Services, whose employee, guard Hasley Augustine, 46, was killed last Thursday when five bandits with high-powered firearms attacked four guards depositing cash at a bank ATM in Cunupia.

Last September, bandits killed two security guards – Jeffrey Peters, 51, and Jerry Stuart, 49 – in the Pennywise robbery in La Romaine.

Previously, guard Bert Clarke, 59, was killed by robbers in 2013 in a highway robbery at Piarco; guard Mark Nurse, 40, was shot dead by robbers in 2019 in Tobago; and guard Kemraj Jaggessar, 56, was killed by a bandit in Valencia, in 2021 while guarding a cigarette van.

Chin pondered the potential of the death penalty and/or rehabilitation in curbing violent crime, while downplaying a call for better firearms after Augustine’s murder.

Newsday asked him about the Estate Police Association’s calls for guards to get high-powered firearms and their allocation to not be capped at 25 bullets.

Chin alluded that his company’s deceased officer had decided to not wear his bullet-proof vest, perhaps because of the heat, even as otherwise most guards and security companies do follow the right procedures.

“If there was a deviance in a security officer, that is what happens in any business where you have people who don’t always follow the rules, break the rules or look for short cuts.”

“The focus should be on the (illegal) weaponry and the banditry and the out-of-control situation.

“Do you want us to bring in tanks next? Will the tank be good enough? And then they (bandits) will bring a bazooka? Where do you stop?”

He said no one should blame security companies which he said were doing their best regarding staff discipline, weaponry and protection provided.

“There’s (only) so much we can do.

“If you come up against bazookas and the kind of AR15 high-powered rifles – automatic weapons – you have to understand that it is either we do the best we can, or everybody shut down and let the bandits take over.”

He lamented the high level of illegal weaponry entering TT for use by criminals.

“Do they want us to now invest in tanks?

“We are bringing in the best armoured cars (armoured vans) out of Texas. All our cars have the full armour, for obvious reasons. The majority of our vehicles are armoured vehicles. Nobody shot up the vehicles. They shot the men when they were outside the vehicle.”

He urged the authorities to “deal with the problem.”

“Bring back the death penalty and hang them. That’s the only thing that’s going to solve the problem.”

Chin reckoned the authorities lacked the testicular fortitude to do what had to be done.

“It’s only going to get worse and worse. As you see we had 11 murders last weekend. Eleven, after the guard was killed!

“So, where do we stop? Do we all go to supermarkets in armoured vehicles now? And walk with guns?

He reckoned only Gary Griffith, former police commissioner (CoP) and NTA head, would address the issue.

Chin questioned CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher’s promise of fewer murders by last June.

“But this weekend it is 11 murders! What does she have to say about that?”

He said security guards must follow their training.

Chin said security vans in Miami had only two guards, but in TT have four guards. TT has worse crime, while Miami has better police, he explained.

He contrasted 11 murders in a 1.4 million population in TT last weekend, to zero in Toronto with a 3 million population.

Chin said robberies of armoured cars could undermine TT’s ATM machines, to the public’s inconvenience.

He lamented underlying social issues feeding crime.

“Crime is the result of certain things happening, where a lot of young people have no hope and don’t care, have no respect for human life and their level of intelligence is questionable. It is a whole combination of things, yet we are not addressing it like an intelligent, civilised society.

“We are not tackling the issues in a concrete and progressive way. We are looking to pass the buck. That’s why it’s continuing to mushroom out of control.”

Chin said TT has many intelligent individuals who should come together to discuss remedying crime.

“The chambers of commerce should be out there, but nobody is taking it on. We really have to get serious.”

He again urged TT to implement the death penalty, without fearing bodies such as Amnesty International whose officers reside abroad in safety.

“We have got to do what we have got to do.”

Newsday tried but was unable to contact Harewood-Christopher.

In May 2022, in an appeal by murder convict Jay Chandler, the Privy Council said in TT a mandatory death penalty by statute was “cruel and unusual punishment” but was constitutional. In the 1993 Jamaican case of Pratt and Morgan, the Privy Council said the death penalty was permissible but only within five years of sentencing, as otherwise the convict’s mental anguish would constitute “inhuman or degrading punishment.”

Last week, four murder convicts were removed from death row at the Port of Spain Prison, for re-sentencing, and will each receive compensation for the State’s delay in executing them. They were each on death row for a minimum of 12 years.