Kamla’s ‘heart heavy’ over CoP’s extension

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. – File photo

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she is not holding out any hope that the crime situation will change with CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher at the helm of the police service for another year.

Addressing the fifth UNC Anti-Crime consultation at Morvant/Laventille on May 13, Persad-Bissessar said Cabinet’s decision to extend the service of the commissioner had left her with a “heavy heart.”

She told the audience at the United National Congress (UNC) crime talk at Misir Community Centre that she did not come to complain, but to listen. However, she said she could not remain silent on what happened in Parliament earlier on May 13.

“Before I came here, we were sitting in the Parliament, and I got a piece of news. The news does not give me any assurance that within the next year we can deal with the crime in Trinidad and Tobago.

“You know what that news was?” she asked her audience.

“The Government has extended the contract of the present commissioner of police.”

Her announcement brought about loud bellows of “Oh no. Oh Lord, no,” from the audience.

She clarified, “Now I have no pain or no trouble with that CoP. In fact, we voted for her when the matter came to the Parliament the last time (2023).

“We voted for her. We said we would give her a chance.

“But with a heavy heart I report this tonight, because I am even more worried what will be happening in Trinidad and Tobago for the rest of the year.”

Persad-Bissessar called on the audience to applaud the police officers who were keeping watch at the meeting, as well as the good men and women in the service who were doing their best in the circumstances.

“We have to give the police their due. We pray to God that Erla would be able to lead them this year, but I tell you, my heart is heavy in hearing this.”

The Opposition Leader said the UNC was doing its part – consulting with the people, and welcoming their feedback, recommendations and suggestions to curb the unprecedented scourge of crime.

“The UNC is leading the charge to make playgrounds safe for children. The UNC is leading the charge to make public spaces safe for our citizens, to make society a safer one for all citizens.

“The UNC is leading the charge so we can feel safe in our homes again, that when we send our children to school they must be safe in those schools.

“Look at where we have reached. Crime is the worst it has ever been in decades upon decades. No one is safe anywhere in any part of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Observing that there are hot spots and hotter spots, she said, “But all over our land is now a hot spot, do you agree?”

She received a resounding, “Yes.”

Briefly touching on her party’s internal elections,  scheduled to take place in June, and calls for her to step down, Persad-Bissessar said she had no such intention.

“In all my years in politics, and there have been many, I don’t intend to retire any time soon.

“With the help of the Lord, strength of the Lord, I don’t intend to retire. I saw some MP begging for people to join in in retirement,” she said about Naparima MP Rodney Charles, who has stated his intention to retire when his term ends.

“He wants company in retirement. I have no intention. I keep the strength and grace of God with me every day.”