Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tobago, a Crime Haven!

Once again the capacity of the Tobago Police force has been called into question. Yesterday the double murder of Richard and Grace Wheeler shock the foundations of the quiet community of Carnbee and instantly send trimmers of conversations around the island and popular social media platforms.  The serenity of Tobago was broken,  the murders became a trending topic,  pessimistic pundits and clairvoyants of doom pronounced on the impending impact to tourism, Tobago's bread and butter.  Surely, there must be an advisory.  But amids the thick sludge of pandemonium and prophetic pronouncements of doom, there was one aspect that stood out, perhaps not to many but deserving of highlight. 

With almost an immediate response,  the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) summoned a team the Homicide Bureau led by   Snr Supt Oswald Cudjoe to spear head investigation in Tobago. At one end this may be seen as welcomed reinforcements to the Homicide officers located in Tobago, however on the other side, it can been perceived as an inadequacy of the Tobago police officers to properly conduct investigative activities and speaks to the capacity and in some cases the competence of the officers stationed in Tobago.  Indeed this is not an isolated development, but somewhat a recurring decimal over the years that questions the functional capacity of Tobago's police officers and their ability and preparedness to investigative "serious" crimes.  Surely, one can question whether this move is as a result of the many unsolved murders in the island of Tobago.   

In recent times, Tobago have seen a marked increase in murders and crimes that includes the use of guns.  Numerous heinous crimes against visitors and nationals have gone unsolved in Tobago. Tobago's very own Mr. Mt. Pleasant,  the two young men who were discovered by a religious leader at French fort in 2009, Kenneth George and his partner Daislyn Hunte who were shot dead at their home, Patrick Dickson, Nigel Fraser shot dead in the capital of Tobago at his business in broad day light, and the list can go on and on.  Tobago murder toll at times reaching a figure of 15 more than one per month.  Visitors and Foreigners living on the island has not been spared as they too have become easy targets of criminals. German nationals Hubertus Keil and his wife Birgid Keil were hacked death at Bacolet Bay. The Greens, in 2009 also fell victims to vicious attacks of criminals though surviving. Peter Taut, a German national was beaten to death and buried near his home at Bacolet, and in 2008, Swedish couple Anna Sundsval, 62, and her companion Ake Alsoon, 73, were chopped to death at Bon Accord.  Sadly, most of these crimes remain unsolved with an explanation of robbery as the usual motive.  

Theorists of rational choice provides a macro and micro perspective on crime in that persons choose to engage in crime because it can be rewarding, easy, satisfying and fun. Moreover, central to this theory,is the premise that people are rational beings whose behaviour can be controlled or modified by a fear of punishment. But how can these criminals be punished if at first we cannot catch them? The likelihood of being caught and prosecuted is low and thus  the island has become a safe haven for criminals. 
Indeed, the island has become a "crime haven", where criminals are almost assured a free ticket of not being caught. The island's boarders are porous beyond imagination, and security forces reflects a weaken state with detection levels low and murders and other serious crimes remain unsolved.  Certainly, crime should not be addressed for the sole reason of Tourism or for international "prettiness", but rather crime should be addressed firstly for the safety and peace of its citizens and the prosperity of the nation. The time has come not only for reflection and introspection but also action. Action must be taken to restore peace to Tobago. Action must be taken to strengthen the security apparatus on the island and increase the training to officers and equipping them with the necessary tools to function optimally. Plans should move apace to make Tobago's boarders impermeable. Its time to send a strong signal to those would-be criminals, let them feel a sense of unease, create an atmosphere restlessness in them that stifles criminal intent and return Tobago to its calm, let the citizens breath again, let them enjoy the serenity they once knew. 

Tobago demands more of its officers. 

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