File photo: Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob.
An act by 20-year-old farmer Ernest Constantine assumed full focus as he was thanked and rewarded for returning a bag of cash to its rightful owner earlier this month.
On May 10, Constantine found a bag containing $7,000 near his Paramin home. He returned the cash to his neighbour Cornelius Campbell, who is also a farmer.
The cash was for Campbell to pay his employees.
During a ceremony at the House of Angostura, Laventille, on Friday, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds praised Constantine for his honesty and said such gestures were lacking in society.
Recalling a recent incident where he prevented a contractor from being beaten by employees in Maraval over unpaid salaries, Hinds said a similar situation could have developed if Constantine had not returned the money.
He added that serious crimes like assault and murder could quickly arise from disagreements and misunderstandings and called on other youths to follow Constantine’s example of service before self.
“Mr Cornelius Campbell could have easily found himself in the same situation.
“His workers probably would not have believed his story and God knows, and this is why Mr (McDonald) Jacob came here today as leading the TT Police Service, the premier law-enforcement agency in Trinidad and Tobago, to speak with the young people across TT, because many situations like that lead to very serious crimes, including murder.
“So Mr Constantine, your compassion, your dignity your honesty may have prevented a whole lot of stuff that may have ended up on Mr Jacob’s and children and other people’s tables to cope with.”
Acting Police Commissioner Jacob also thanked Constantine for returning the cash.
He added that such gestures were reassuring to the public, as it showed a willingness among young people to do help others.
He stressed that programmes geared towards teaching life skills, conflict resolution and anger management were effective anti-crime strategies to prevent youths from entering a life of crime.
Jacob also said the police were often called on to deal with crime, but he hoped other institutions in the public and private sector could join the fight against crime before it becomes unmanageable.
“The police are the law enforcement agency to enforce the law, but crime is a social construct. People socialise, it’s learned behaviour, and it starts from our main institution, the family. But there are several others (institutions) that can be placed within our society, even though there may be fallout in the homes which are dysfunctional.
“I think over the years some of these buffers, from the institutions of the church, the workplace, the schools, have been weakened a bit so we need to strengthen it back.”
Constantine lives alone without electricity. FT Farfan gave him a generator and a weedwacker andthe House of Angostura donated a chiller and two months worth of groceries.
Speaking with reporters after the ceremony, Constantine said he was happy to receive recognition, but insisted he was also just happy to be able to help his neighbour.