Port of Spain disgusted by crime rate as country passes 100 murders in 2024

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Carl Cyrus – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

HAVING recorded 100 murders in the first 67 days of the year, Newsday took to the streets of Port of Spain on the 68th day to get the public’s views on that state of affairs on Friday, and one word was being repeatedly used to describe the situation – “disgusting.”

Carl Cyrus, a security officer at a law firm, called the crime rate disgusting and embarrassing, saying, “For a small country with 1.5 million, this is unacceptable. We need to do better.”

He called for the return of the hangman, saying stiffer penalties were needed, particularly for guns, drugs and murder.

Cyrus believes home invasions are also on the rise and the government must do more to fight crime. He said investing more resources in sports and library services and encouraging young people to read could help.

In February, US resident Hyacinth Gardner, 72, was beaten to death in her home in Santa Rosa, Arima. Police believe her murder was linked to a home invasion.

Several items were missing from her home and Gardner’s silver Subaru car was found crashed and abandoned in Wallerfield.

On Wednesday, a 79-year-old Valsayn resident, Vanessa Richards, was found dead in her house in what appeared to be a home invasion. Her lifeless body was found on the floor of her bedroom with her hands bound. She lived alone and retired to TT 20 years ago after a career as an actress in England.

Patsy Banfield – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Retired nurse Patsy Banfield, who runs the Chinapoo Village Social Welfare Organisation and is a resident in the Chinapoo, Mapp Lands, Laventille, said there was nothing good about the crime situation, also calling it disgusting.

She said she did not feel safe in her home and spoke about the Chinapoo community, saying it needed basic necessities such as working street lights and water.

Banfield believes those improvements can positively affect the outlook of young people in her area.

“We are living like Tarzan and Jane. (But) we are people.”

She said there was a need for more social activities and jobs, as well as the planting of trees in the area.

“They need to see the greenery to enjoy the beauty of nature in their own community.”

Banfield also called for harsher penalties for guns, drugs and murder.

In February, 11-year-old Ezekiel Paria, who had dreams of becoming a pilot, was killed by a stray bullet while standing at Mapp Trace, Laventille Road, when gunmen ambushed a passing vehicle.

It is believed the intended target was a 39-year-old contractor who was in the car with his 15-year-old daughter.

A man who gave his name only as Jerome said he was saddened and heartbroken for TT, saying criminal elements were running rampant and it was disgusting and frightening.

The Petit Valley resident said he owned his own hair salon and was now cautious about taking on new clients.

“I won’t allow just anybody in my business place any more. In the past, I would have done so, but not any more.

“We are living in some scary times, and the government doesn’t seem to have a handle on things.”

Sherry-Ann Rubin-Black – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Sherry-Ann Rubin-Black, who runs an NGO, said she was disgusted by the state of crime and highlighted the brazen daytime shooting of 20-year-old Jaheim Diaz on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.

“That young man came out to make an honest living, to earn an honest living, and was killed.”

Repots say Diaz was selling juice and bottled water out of three styrofoam coolers at the corner of Charlotte and Duke streets near KFC when he was shot dead.

Rubin-Black did not believe the government was doing enough to fight crime, saying she believed the police knew who the criminal elements were in communities but did nothing about it.

She said, in her community, there were young people who wanted a different life, but owing to peer pressure, they fell into crime.

Newsday tried contacting Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher and Police PRO Michelle Lewis for comments but was unsuccessful.

However, Newsday was able to reach police corporate communications manager Joanne Archie, who said she would pass Newsday questions to Harewood-Christopher. Newsday did not receive a response by press time.