Religious leaders: Police must work with God, citizens

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Erla Harewood-Christopher

While religious leaders agree with Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher that God’s help is necessary to curb crime in the country, they say the police has to work harder and citizens need to help the police for that to happen.

On Wednesday during her keynote address at the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s breakfast meeting at Signature Hall, Longdenville, Harewood-Christopher said people needed to invoke the help of “that superior being” to bring TT back to where they want it to be, as the police could not do it alone.

She said it was as if evil had “spread over the land” and the state of crime in the country was “beyond the physical.”

“The police could come up with whatever strategy, but unless we enlist the help of God, we will be working in vain.”

Retired Anglican priest Rev Dr Knolly Clarke told Sunday Newsday he supported Harewood-Christopher’s statement. He said anyone who had a faith would ask God for help, strength, guidance and the opportunity to do what was best.

He said it did not mean she was only depending on God. He stressed that prayers were not everything. People still had to work hard for what they wanted.

For example he said he tried to live a healthy life but he still had to go to the doctor. And even then, he prayed to God for comfort and to be healed.

“In order to do the strategies properly, you have to ask God to help you to see and to perceive, to hear and to understand, to speak with a voice of confidence. And that could only come from a faith in the living God.

“I am supporting her because she has a faith in her God. She will also work with her police doing all the strategies. I don’t know why people are taking umbrage to that. Since when have we lost our spirituality? Since when we got so negative towards religion?”

Vicar general of the RC Archdiocese of Port of Spain Fr Martin Sirju agreed saying the faithful should not rely on God alone.

“We cannot discount the fact that we must work and pray. It’s not either or, it’s an ‘and.’

“So, we can’t shun the responsibility and just make it seem magical and throw arms up in the air for divine intervention.”

He added that one of the principles of the RC Church was belief in mediation through graces, that God would work with, through, and for man as well.

President of the Inter Religious Organisation of TT (IRO) Pundit Lloyd Mukram Sirjoo said all religious people would agree that the people of TT needed to become more godly.

In fact, he said religious people have been praying about all the negative things happening in society but prayer alone was not the answer. He said heard about students being assaulted physically and sexually, parents making reports to the police, and the perpetrators, also students, were never apprehended and continued to harass parents and students.

“Put the strategies in front. The police have to do their work. What the Commissioner of Police should be doing is telling her officers to get off their butts and do what they’re supposed to do.

“We have been praying all the time but the police has to put their shoulders to the wheel. We could have the whole country saying ‘God help us’ and nothing will happen if the police don’t do what they have to do.”

Sirjoo added that reporting a crime to the police was additional trauma because of their treatment by the police officers. He said they often made the person making the report feel as if they did something wrong, displayed a don’t-care attitude, or did not record the correct information.

Anjuman Sunnatul Jamaat Association (ASJA) trustee Ishmael Mohammed said people needed the help of God in everything but the police needed the help of citizens.

He said in the past, the village used to raise the child, but now, if someone complained about a child, a parent would tell their neighbours to mind their own business. He believes that past attitude was necessary to curb crime.

“We need to come together as a nation and try to look out for one another. We all have a part to play in it. We also have to join together with the police to make sure we abide by the law. When you see something, say something.”