May 13, 2002
Articles on crime
Saturday evening's brutal murder by bandits of businessman Ramdeo Persaud and his wife Sita as they relaxed in hammocks under their Annandale house is another outrage that stares the police and the government starkly in their faces.
Coming in the midst of a crisis in law enforcement, the murders are bound to further aggravate tensions. This latest abomination has all the hallmarks of execution just for the sake of killing. If robbery was the motive for the attack as has been the case in the spate of recent assaults on householders, then there was no need to kill the two. Persaud and his wife posed no conceivable threat to the bandits and had been coerced to the point of cooperation. It leaves open the question of the motive behind the killings.
So what are the police and government going to do? It's all been said before. There is no use droning on and on about the fundamental changes that are needed in policing and the abject failure of the police to solve crimes similar to this. That has been regurgitated ad nauseam in these columns so much so that the most avid ruminant would admit defeat.
The only issue that bears some re-examination is the police's access to the village of Buxton. From all reports, it appears that the murderers of Persaud and his wife fled the scene of the crime through Buxton. True to form, the police arrived around 20 minutes after the event. Is the police force truly in a state of heightened alert amid the mayhem sparked by the escapees and their cohorts? But back to Buxton. Did the police engage in `hot pursuit' in the village after they arrived on the scene? Probably not. The reason being that the killing by the black clothes police of Shaka Blair has so comprehensively fractured relations with the community that it is impossible for basic policing to be done. Witness the gun attack on a police patrol by Buxtonians on Friday night.
Under these circumstances, Buxton and contiguous communities will become safe havens for criminals even though the majority of their law-abiding citizens are thoroughly opposed to it. While it is important that Buxtonians themselves try their utmost to purge their community of the criminals and those who would harbour them, the primary responsibility for achieving this rests with the police force. There are sufficient and credible reports to strongly suggest that the escapees and criminals are operating in and around the village with impunity.
Acting Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald at a recent press conference told journalists that there was a police plan to improve the relationship with Buxton. This plan is clearly deeply under wraps and has not been implemented if one is to judge by Saturday evening's events. The time is now, Mr. Commissioner.
Will the government at least agree that in addition to the extra-judicial killings crisis that has gripped the police force, policing is also beset by other fundamental problems? It is under-motivated, under-equipped, ill-paid, disorganised and needs a range of technical assistance to investigate and successfully prosecute crimes. These deficiencies need to be addressed now, not tomorrow or next month. What is the government going to do about this?