[UPDATED] Hinds: Hunt under way for 12,000 illegal guns

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds gestures during Monday’s news conference at his ministry in Port of Spain. – ROGER JACOB

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds said a major operation was underway to unearth some 12,000 illegal firearms now in the hands of criminals.

At a news conference at the ministry in Port of Spain on Monday, he urged public support to unearth such weapons, saying even the smallest child in a community might know a gun was hidden under a piece of galvanised sheeting. The news conference was also attended by heads of the country’s security services.

Hinds said he was glad for the retrieval of some firearms, but wanted the seizure of the 12,000 guns intelligence reports had identified so as to make the country “a cleaner and more wholesome place.”

He said, “I have no doubt that with focus and will, we can get them.”

Hinds began by acknowledging the widespread concern over a spate of killings, including gang-related, robberies and domestic.

“Like you we feel the pain, trauma, anxiety, disquiet, loss, fear that you feel. We feel your pain. We understand your call and your cry.”

He said thousands of law enforcement officers stand in the gap for the citizenry and he was intimately aware of the issues regarding crime.

“The situation is far more complex than the ordinary man might want to feel. It is not one exclusively for the police. This requires a whole-of-government approach, a whole-of-society approach.

“It’s very complex. It didn’t happen overnight. It won’t go home overnight. It’s very complex and multilayered.”

Later on, asked by Newsday how he felt about the recent spate of crime including gang shooting and the murder/robbery of Couva businessman Daryl Dindial, Hinds replied, “horrendous, mindblowing, crazy.”

He said he was very open to new ideas on tackling crime, having already got suggestions from the media, business community, NGOs and faith-based groups.

Newsday asked Hinds his views on the performance of acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob. He said it was not his job to assess Jacob, but the Police Service Commission.

Hinds said he gets full support from Jacob whom he found to be “a very focussed and hardworking” person.

“I know the level of intensity this job demands. I have no reason to complain.” However, he said most organisations could work harder, presumably, including the police service.

Jacob warned against seeking superheroes to stem crime, but lamented that TT was manufacturing criminals.

“Something is wrong. We have a lot of dysfunctional homes.” He said he met Minister of Social Development Donna Cox to work together with faith-based groups in various communities to try to stop the crime factory affecting young people.

Regarding school fights, Hinds said some child behaviour was extremely violent and that must be told to perpetrators, who should also benefit from rehabilitation, restoration and counselling.

Senior Supt Rishi Singh of the Homicide Bureau lamented a spate of familial killings beyond that of husband-wife and boyfriend-girlfriend, but in property disputes, plus altercations over weed-wackers.

“My officers are exhausted, but they continue to be willing.”