Rowley: Hinds stays, no Cabinet reshuffle

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds at an Independence Day ceremony at the Police Administration Building on August 31. FILE PHOTO/AYANNA KINSALE –

The Prime Minister is standing by the work National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is doing to deal with crime, dismissing calls for the minister to be removed from the post.

He also denied reports of an impending Cabinet reshuffle.

“Reshuffling for reshuffling sake does not improvement make,” Dr Rowley said at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s

He said he gave “no signal to anyone that there will be any reshuffle.”

“I have a great respect for and belief in stability.”

Rowley added, “While few people may accelerate their performance, the majority of people have a learning curve before they can start running again.”

Asked about calls for Hinds’ removal, Rowley said he understood “where it comes from and how it goes,” but added that he also understood the work that is being done.

He said progress is being made in the fight against crime and praised the cooperation of the US ambassador, Candace Bond, in helping that fight.

“While I will not make projections or predictions I am confident that the work we are doing with the assistance of external parties that we would eventually get the better of the criminal elements which have been seeking to expand their reaches in TT.”

He added, “We also have been receiving a lot of training in recent past and we are sharing information now much more than ever. We have vetted units who will have greater access to support and information to follow the criminal activities.”

Rowley said steps were also being taken to reduce inmates’ ability to communicate with other criminals on the street.

“We know for a fact that a lot of the killings that have been taking place have their origins and instructions from people who are already incarcerated. We are taking steps to ensure our prisons pay a lesser role.”

He added that the Government is also ensuring that the necessary technological countermeasures are in place.

“The question of drones…we are taking steps to deal with that and shut it down and we are also ensuring that the people who are inside of the prison do less and less in facilitating the immobilising of equipment meant to make the prison a secure place.”

Rowley revealed that he intends to engage Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to discuss legislative approaches to dealing with the crime situation.

“I intend to write to her and to ask her to receive personnel from the Government on the issue of crime and the Government receive from her side on the issue of crime and let us see what common ground exists that the Parliament can deal with.”

Rowley said some of the crimes being seen in TT leads one to the conclusion that “we are a violent society.”

He referenced the death of security guard Adana Simmons, 28, who died after her cousin stabbed her with a pair of compasses.

“For that to be a killing tool…who are we? Why is this happening?”

Rowley suggested that the public bore some responsibility.

He said, “There might be a murderer committing more than one murder but he or she is somebody’s son, daughter, brother, husband, boyfriend or neighbour, they didn’t come from Mars.”

“So when we keep just dealing with issues talking about ‘the prime minister and the minister of national security’ we are missing a huge bullseye.”

Rowley suggested that the Government is doing its job in the fight against crime.

“This killing is not a ministerial thing. Our job is to prevent the killing tools from being available and from giving people options.”