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Letter: Call for a cease fire in the police war on crime
Published on June 24, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The confrontation between the police and residents of the Laventille area has claimed lives of residents and officers were injured. The claims by residents of excessive force and unprovoked aggression of the police are countered with accounts of the police officers who state they were forced to respond with full force when snipers in the hills are shooting and injuring innocent persons walking in the street.

Whatever is the reason for the confrontation, it must be investigated. It is incumbent on the minister of national security to ensure that the mandate of the ministry to protect and serve individuals who are transacting business and moving around in their community. The trauma experienced by the residents of these areas who witness the attacks and the victims is most profound. In addition those who hide indoors secure themselves by dodging the firepower of the police and the snipers in the hills. The psychological toll of negative images in the media causes psychological challenges for victims and no professional support is made available. Such support interventions must be professional, prompt and accessible.

What is happening in the Hills of Laventille is what police and the national security minister call a war. The police claim that weapons of the snipers can pierce their bulletproof vests and insist they will only be safe by returning fire. Innocent lives are lost hourly and many individuals injured are victims of a war declared on the area by the police, national security officers and the prime minister. Effective policing calls for varying levels of threat assessments and the required intervention in situations.

The residents of Greater Laventille now regard the police with suspicion, yet these are the very persons who need to approach the police to seek their protection. To date snipers have not been apprehended while the police vow to continue the war and are supported by the prime minister and the minister of national security for their “deadly use of force”. An urgent national intervention is urgently required to halt the” killing fields” established when confronting these anti-social elements.

The prime minister, head of the National Security Council, must insist that these snipers are apprehended and expect safety and accountability for law abiding residents from every police officer deployed to in any community. Ballistic records must be done to identify repeat and first time offenders. Police are still expected to carry out their duties responsibly to protect and serve all citizens notwithstanding the elements with whom they have declared war and on whom the prime minister has “unleashed the dogs of war”. A ceasefire can provide the community with an opportunity to allow reason to prevail while those who hold the community to ransom can be apprehended without confrontation. The victim and support group of the Police Service as well as experts in negotiations must attempt to bring sanity to the greater Laventille area.

Many innocent individuals who are being affected by the incidence of crime in the area need urgent psychological support as well as ongoing debriefing for residents to reduce the effects of the trauma they endure on a daily basis. The “No Time to Quit” report of March 2013 carried out by Prof. Sewlyn Ryan and laid in Parliament focused on high risk youth (16 to 24yrs) developed recommendations for interventions. Immediately implement them with competent trained professionals. Implement immediately the ten-point crime plan the opposition PNM developed in a bipartisan approach for crime reduction and national security. Now is the time to act. Call a cease-fire, hold the dogs of war and immediately implement the recommendations NOW.

NiLeung Hypolite MP
Laventille West Constituency
Reads: 5620

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