PM chairs National Security Council meet as murder toll hits 509

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley –

AS the country’s murder toll surpassed 500 – reaching 509 on Monday – the Prime Minister held a meeting of the National Security Council and police service top-brass led by acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob, said a statement on Dr Rowley’s personal page on Facebook posted on Monday afternoon.

“Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley is chairing a meeting with the National Security Council and the Divisional Heads of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s,” said the statement.

A spate of shootings saw 16 murders in four days two weekends ago, with recent victims including small children.

The nation was shocked when Jomol Modeste, nine, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Enterprise on October 15, while three-year-old Nazim Owen was among four people shot dead (and two wounded) at Winnie Mohammed Road, Diego Martin, on Sunday, October 23. A 13 year old girl was wounded when she was in a group that was shot at in New Grant on Saturday, while in St James a baby was sheltered from death by his mother and father who were both gunned down.

The Opposition, mainly through Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, has asked Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on National Security to meet to discuss the crisis. In particular, Moonilal has asked that Rowley, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob be called before the committee to explain their respective plans to fight rising crime.

The NSC meeting came after a week of Cabinet silence, even as reports of violence continued to buffet citizens.

Joining Rowley at the head table at the NSC were Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, Attorney General Reginald Armour, Hinds and Energy Minister Stuart Young. About 50 top police officers including Jacob were also present.

Hinds later told media the meeting was not an emergency meeting, but a regular meeting. He said, as representatives of the people, the Government understood the trauma the people were facing and was aware of the implications of wanton crime for TT’s international reputation.

“We reminded the police what we expect of them.”

Hinds also said police officers present were given the opportunity to say what additional support they required from government.

Hinds recalled that the Government had gone to Parliament to try to legislate to curb the impact of criminal gangs and illicit guns.