Hinds not happy with law enforcement

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fitzgerald Hinds. File photo/Jeff K Mayers

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds expressed reservations over the performance of the protective services in light of a recent spate of group shootings, speaking to reporters at the Red House Rotunda on Monday after the ceremonial opening of Parliament.

Asked his views on the recent performance of acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacobs, Hinds replied, “I cannot say I’m ultimately optimally happy with the performance of the TT law enforcement platforms.

“We have much more work to do. We have porous borders. This includes the Customs, Immigration, Defence Force, Coast Guard, our radar system.”

He urged everyone to work harder against crime.

“There are a lot of state agencies populated by individuals that are complicit in this crime problem we are facing, either negligent in their duty or complicit.”

He said public corruption was affecting the crime situation.

Hinds gave insight into the causes of crime, saying illegal guns were mainly sourced in the US and were imported not only by the proverbial Mr Big by also by “the small man.” Somewhat blaming crime on certain corrupt activities in the public sector, he said corruption exists throughout the society including past cabinets and even the media.

Hinds proposed polygraph testing to ensure the moral integrity of key public employees including police officers.

“I have a bill before Parliament and we carried it over into this new Parliament. It has to do with integrity testing of officers of law enforcement. It includes elements of Inland Revenue, Immigration, Customs, Defence Force, Police Service, and certain sectors of the Public Service including the Registrar General’s Department.

“In the Registrar General’s Department if someone corruptly steals a birth certificate it could give rise to the importation of, and the settlement and comfort here, of a terrorist or a terrorist cell that could bring harm to all of us.”

He said the bill would need a special majority but would allow “spontaneous integrity testing” of individuals.

“It is very important because very often people who are involved in law enforcement, driving around in law enforcement vehicles, can become part of the problem. We need to be able to test them.”

He said the Government would continue to seek the Opposition’s support for the bill.

“I have also before us a Private Security Bill which also requires a special majority and we are hoping we’ll get support. That will bring about 50,000 private security officers, like happens in Israel and other countries, into the security platform in a more direct way…”

Hinds declared, “I believe that with more effort and more support from the public we can do a lot better at dealing with this problem in TT.”