Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds at a news conference in the ministry’s office, Port of Spain on Monday. – Jeff Mayers
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says the murder toll for 2021 was troubling to him. He says while he is confident about the police’s ability to tackle crime, he feels more can be done.
For 2021 there were 448 murders compared to 2020’s figure of 398 and 2019’s total of 537.
Responding to questions on his thoughts for last year’s murder toll and strategies to improve the efficiency of the protective services for the new year, Hinds said several plans were underway to treat with the issue.
Citing the murders of Rizanne Roach-Lucas in Talparo, and the killings of prison officers Trevor Serrette and Nigel Jones, Hinds said these were some of the killings which stood out to him.
“Every single death of every citizen under murderous circumstances, that too often occur, is a painful experience to me as a citizen, as a man, and certainly as Minister of National Security…
“I as Minister of National Security must rely on the work of the Commissioner of Prisons, the Chief of Defence Staff and, most importantly, the work of the Commissioner of Police and his men and women, and all of the law enforcement family of TT.
“I urge them to come alive, meaning to dedicate yourselves 25 hours a day to this business. The people of TT need our protection.
“I do not believe, as I’ve said before without apology, that we in TT – our workforce, close to 600,000 of us, are operating at full throttle and full capacity. There’s a lot of capacity inside of us still and my urging is that we will all, particularly national security, come alive and operate at full throttle and push back against the criminals.”
Citing a recent discussion with acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob, Hinds said he was reassured that strategies and measures were being introduced to improve the quality of policing and crime prevention in different categories.
Recalling instances where an argument among relatives could escalate to murder, he said the availability of dispute-resolution facilities were suggested in the discussion.
He also noted that tactics aimed at removing illegal guns were also a main priority for the police.
“If we in law enforcement take the appropriate action to go out there and find and seize and arrest people for these illegal firearms, the absence of chicken means you can’t make chicken stew and you can’t kill with a gun if you don’t have a gun. So the State has a responsibility to go out there and find the guns.”