Open letter to the Minister of National Security Trinidad and Tobago, Retired Brig Edmund Dillon

Subject: Open letter to the Minister of National Security Trinidad and Tobago, Retired Brig Edmund Dillon
From: Trinidad and Tobago Action Alliance Against Gun Violence (TTAAAGV)
Date: 12 Jan 2016
Stop Gun Violence TNT

Open letter to the Minister of National Security (Trinidad and Tobago), Retired Brig Edmund Dillon,

Honorable Minister,

Does Trinidad and Tobago have a Gun Problem or a Gang Problem? Where is your focus? You said in Parliament on January 12th, 2016 that there is no spike in murders based on the recent murders for the year 2016. You then went on to make the case that the recent murders were gang related.

What you failed to highlight unless this aspect of your speech was not covered in the media is that all of these gang related murders were GUN related murders. Isn’t it a bit disingenuous and insensitive to brush off the recent violent crimes as gang related without admitting that we have a serious illegal firearm problem in Trinidad and Tobago?

You are not the first Minister of National Security to attempt to give false comfort to a population that has already resolved that we seem to lack the skill or strategies to curb this gun problem. If we get hold of the illegal gun crisis, wouldn’t we effectively nullify most of the gang activity in the country?

Do you think going after gang leaders will end the gun problem? Haven’t we always been told that there is always a second-in-command in these organized gangs? When the leaders die do the rest of gang members pack up the guns and throw them into the sea?

We are very disappointed by this approach which in our opinion is not going to make a dent in the crime rate at all. Can’t your ministry see that we have to get the guns off the street? We have to find where they are coming from? You have to do more than just try to brush away our concerns with platitudes. The fact that gang leaders were killed last week does not mean the spiraling culture of gun violence will end. We have been down this road before. Haven’t we?

Since the new PNM Government came into power in September 2015, they are yet to outline a National Security plan, one that speaks of plans related to stopping the illegal importation of guns and ammunition within the national borders of the country. They have not outlined how they will get these illegal firearms out of the hands of gangs and criminals and how they intend to REDUCE the rate of homicides in Trinidad and Tobago over the next five years.

TTAAAGV is proposing the following measures:
1. A comprehensive national security plan to reduce the number of homicides by 50% by the year 2020,

2. An amendment of laws related to judicial proceedings to make video (from CCTV or video surveillance) evidence admissible in criminal cases,

3. An Amendment to laws related to giving evidence in criminal matters via the two-way remote/video witness testimony process,

4. A strengthening of the witness protection program,

5. An increase in the number of Magistrate Courts in rural and urban areas, preferably these courts should be located close to existing prisons,

6. The immediate implementation of a Gun Court to deal with illegal fire arm offenses and matters,

7. A Firearm (illegal) Eradication Unit within the Police Service,

8. Strengthening of the Police Intelligence units,

9. A strengthening of the border patrols and rural police units,

10. A strengthening of the human resource practices within the police service including the recruitment and selection the COP and upgrade and promotion of officers.

TTAAAGV - "Stand for the Lost, Speak for the Living"