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Diego man gunned down

One man is dead while another is warded at hospital following a shooting incident in Diego Martin yesterday morning.

Sources said the shooting took place at about 2 am along the North Post Road in Diego Martin.

Residents of the area reportedly heard several loud explosions and saw the two young men bleeding from gunshot injuries. 

By the time police arrived, one of the victims—Jahkim Valentine—had died.

The 26-year-old Valentine, a father of six, was said to have been killed in the yard of his home.

The second victim, Tyrell Martin, was said to have been shot in his lower body.

He was rushed to the hospital where he was warded in a stable but serious condition. 

Meanwhile, Brad Williams, 28, was shot dead along St Vincent Street, Tunapuna around 3.45 pm yesterday. Circumstances surrounding his killing are unclear. 

Tobago mom wants justice

A second murder for the year has been recorded for Tobago.

Zaki Lorde, from Lambeau, was shot dead by gunmen in the vicinity of the Live Wire Pub in Lambeau, around 11 pm, Friday.

Lorde, police said, was in his 30s.

The murder toll for Tobago now stands at two.

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian yesterday, Lorde’s father, Hubert Lorde, said he was unaware of any grievances his son had with anyone. He said his son was well liked in the community and acted as a provider for many. The father said he does not hold any resentment or animosity against the men who killed his son since they were not born as criminals. He said he was at peace and is prepared to forgive the men.

Meanwhile, Lorde’s mother, Claudia Phillips, said she remained in shock over the incident.

She wants justice to be served.

“Right now I’m hurt and there’s no forgiveness in me. It’s too hard to think about that right now. I want the perpetrators to be brought to justice, whoever did that to my son,” Phillips said.

Lorde was a poultry farmer and a sanitation worker employed with the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities in the THA. He was also the father of four children ranging from two to seven.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

Divali Nagar has come a long way

Divali Nagar has a come a long way in its 30-year history. Having started as the replica of a village depicting facets of cultural life during T&T’s Indentureship period, the event was initially staged at the back of the Mid-Centre Mall, Chaguanas. 

The event became so popular and outgrew the venue so that the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) lobbied for the Nagar’s permanent home to be located along the Uriah Butler Highway. In three decades, the Nagar has become part of the cultural landscape that has served to demystify Hinduism to people who had little knowledge of the religion. It has also helped to encourage the new generation of Hindus to strengthen their faith. 

The annual themes of the Nagar focus on various aspects of Hinduism. These themes are complemented with a large display on the subject matter that gives a wealth of information. This year’s theme is Ganga Maa, which focuses on the goddess of the River Ganga (Ganges). In Hinduism, the river Ganga is considered sacred and is personified as a goddess, Ganga. It is worshipped by Hindus who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death). 

The Sunday Guardian sought feedback from people at the Nagar.

Dr Winston Tolan, a Jamaican who organises Indian Arrival Day celebrations in his country, has been coming to the Nagar for the last 18 years to sing. Tolan said the Nagar has given a lot of opportunity for Indians living in the region to showcase their culture. Tolan said in Jamaica there are around 20,000 people of Indian origin. However, they are scattered across the large island and the economics and logistics make it difficult to stage a similar event. He said Indian Arrival Day in Jamaica is the largest event the community has annually. 

Gowtam Mahadeo, spokesman of the Blue Bird’s Sports and Cultural Organization, said his group sells pepper roti at the Nagar. He said it was the only fundraiser the group has annually to assist with several community-based activities in the Penal/Barrackpore area. Mahadeo said he expects this year to be as good as those gone by despite the recession.

Pran Rampersad, a resident of Barrackpore, said he has visited the Nagar since its inception. Rampersad said the Nagar has come a long way. However, he would like to see the format changed to include more outdoor cultural exhibits as was done in 1986. 

Denise Chinpire, who operates a booth with pooja items, said the food court area needs to be upgraded. Chinpire said the area could do with the installation of outdoor sinks for handwashing and places for people with families to sit and eat. Chinpire said even though the economy has slowed down, the Nagar would see hundreds of thousands of visitors during its ten-day run. She said this would provide an ample opportunity to promote her business and interact with customers firsthand. 

Pedro Williams, a corn soup vendor who has been at the Nagar for the past 15 years, said business has always been good at the Nagar. Williams said Thursday’s opening night has been one of the best in years. Traditonally opening nights draw the smallest crowds. William said he anticipates more visitors to the Nagar this year because the event is free and has proper security in place.

Cintra Persad, a newcomer to the Nagar, said her main aim was to promote her graphic arts business, CS designs, and develop a year-round clientele based on the contacts she makes at the Nagar. 

Rajiv Deonarine, one of the few male henna artistes in T&T, who works for an organization called Henna T&T, said henna art is in big demand at Divali time. Deonarine said Henna T&T also hopes to develop long-term clients based on the exposure at the Nagar.

Surujdeo Mangaroo, PRO of the NCIC, said the Nagar has grown in quality over the years and is still a work in progress that will only get better. Mangaroo said despite a fall in government subventions the Nagar would not lower its standards of entertainment or the delivery of cultural themes and presentations. He was confident that support will come from all sectors for the 2017 Divali Nagar.

The Nagar closes on Friday, October 28, and each night promises to be filled with entertainment. The secret is to reach early, make a tour of the grounds, and get a good seat closer to the stage.

La Brea wants medical care from Petrotrin

Vance River, La Brea, residents living near the oil-polluted river that four-year-old Caleb Hart fell into are now calling on Petrotrin to set up a medical camp in the community as residents continue to fall ill.

Yesterday, a backhoe supervised by Petrotrin personnel was seen dredging the river running along Fortune Mc Cathy Street, which is a street away from where Caleb lives.

Caleb slipped on a narrow bridge near his home at Fitz Lane on his way to school and fell into the thick oil-slicked river on Wednesday.

He was rescued by his father, but covered from his neck down in mud.

While residents were relieved that Petrotrin was finally cleaning up the oil spill which appeared in the river a month ago, they were very concerned about their health.

Aba Antonio said other children and even adults are suffering from a range of health problems which they believe is a result of breathing in the gaseous oil compounds and physically coming in contact with the oil.

Antonio recalled her nephew Jabari Antonio, seven, slipped on the river bank in his school uniform and fell into the oil last month. She said since then an itchy rash has broken out on the child’s back and abdomen.

She said Petrotrin was informed about the incident, but has done nothing.

“Only Caleb’s mother got medicine from Petrotrin doctors to use on him because he too was getting a rash, but no one else.”

Aba’s sister Abebe showed T&T Guardian a rash on her arm, saying, “I have this about three weeks now and it scratching. Is because of the oil. I went to Vance River beach two days ago and I could not bathe because it had plenty oil.”

Another resident, Natasha Mitchell, a mother of six children ranging between 18 years and three months old, said her children are also being affected.

She said her son Wendell Paul, nine, has been experiencing blurred vision since the oil appeared in the river which is opposite their home. “He has pain in his eyes which has dark circles around them. Two of my daughters’ asthma only acting up. The fumes very strong. I does get bad feeling, I feeling weak. You actually tasting the fumes.” 

Mitchell said she called on Petrotrin to provide medical treatment for her family and help them with their medical bills. 

Antonio’s blind father, Karvin, said, “Sometimes I have to close my eyes because they burning, my nose burning from the fumes.”

Residents said Petrotrin should send a medical team in the village to conduct tests and provide medication for the residents. They also complained that their MP Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre has not contacted or visited them.

Sister: It’s a wound that never heals

Imagine suffering a wound from a chop. Then imagine that wound showing no signs of healing.

It’s how the sister of missing nail technician Ashma Naimool has been feeling since June 3, 2015.

Nia Naimool, 36, and members of her family have searched every corner of this island with the hope of finding Ashma.

The Naimool family, along with other families, received calls about ten months ago to identify the remains of a female body. There was no confirmation that the remains were those of Ashma. 

While their search efforts have produced no results, the family refuses to give up hope of finding their loved one. Ashma went missing days before her 33rd birthday. She and Nia were best friends who lived together in an apartment in Tacarigua. Ashma moved in with Nia while finalising a divorce. She was trying to become an independent young woman but her dreams were shortlived when she left the apartment one evening with a male friend and never returned. 

Nia described the close relationship which Ashma shared with a male as “unhealthy.”

“My sister wanted to have her own apartment and a successful business but that never happened,” she said. 

The Sunday Guardian spoke with Nia on Thursday. She shared personal details of her sister’s life and recalled how much love she still feels for her. Nia stills drink tea in Ashma’s teacup.

Ashma was one of four sisters; she also has two brothers. The Naimool family, originally from Biche, has been ripped apart with pain since her disappearance, Nia said.

“The time leading up to Ashma’s disappearance, the crucial time like what every family goes through...those months... we got phone calls from people all over telling us her body was here and there or behind a patch in church. We were asked to send $500 to people’s phones saying they will tell us where Ashma was.

“People called and said she was right there with them, that men were raping her...”

Nia said calls were traced to the prisons from people trying to extort money from the family. She even said the family paid an undisclosed sum to the host of a popular local TV show but still never got assistance.

She said the family never took any call or tip off for granted and went on many wild goose chases.

“In the moment, you would do anything.”

Ashma was the favourite among the siblings; she was also her mother’s favourite child. Nia said there was never any jealousy over that, and joked that they all accepted it.

Ashma’s 56-year-old mother, security guard Seelochanie Lal, has had many sleepless months. Nia said her mother worries and breaks down in tears very often. And with the kidnapping of south hairdresser Ria Sookdeo, the pain has become even more unbearable. 

No healing 

Trying to relate the pain she feels, Nia said, “Rhonda, this kind of trauma...there isn’t any one word to describe it. If you can understand what I am telling you, you might can get a little insight. Have you ever grieved for someone? Have you ever felt grief?”

She went on, “Losing somebody who went missing and who disappeared like this, without a trace...it is a deep suffering. It is a deep suffering and here is how I look at it. Have you ever seen a chop wound? It is a big chop and no matter how you try to stitch that up, you keep seeing pink all the time. No matter how you try to put it together, that’s how it feels...like a never healing wound. There is no sign of healing.”

She said she often wondered why another person would drop off a young woman by the lonely roadside in Arouca in the night. The CCTV footage which Nia viewed at the Arima bar where Ashma and the male companion were last seen showed the time code as 9.40 pm on June 3. 

Police need 

special training 

Over the last 15 months, the Naimool family has spent money on their own investigation searching for Ashma. 

“I can never imagine the police of our country ever doing what we have done,” Nia said. 

She said there needed to be a restructuring of the unit set up to deal with missing persons and said she believed if there was a more professional, competent and skilled set of police officers, her sister would have been found earlier, dead or alive. 

Nia said, “If you get a call, act on it. At one time we sent $500 to someone because we wanted our sister. Nobody told us not to do that. They don’t tell you that people will call you and tell you x, y and z. They sit there and take a statement and that’s it. Imagine they took statements from me and all of my sisters, but not first from the person who was in the company of my sister.”

She criticised the police saying they were “lackadaisical” and “lagged” with the case. She said the family had begun to get “fed up” of calling and visiting the police. 

“I think she would have been found. Her phone was traced to the Lopinot area.” She said her sister’s case was “just another one.”

Six corporations to watch

In the past two Local Government elections six corporations were responsible for the shift in power.

These six corporations are the San Fernando City Corporation, the Arima and Chaguanas Borough Corporations and the Diego Martin, Tunapuna/Piarco and Sangre Grande Regional Corporations.

While there are 14 corporations in all up for grabs across Trinidad in the upcoming elections, according to the results of the 2010 and 2013 Local Government elections there are five in particular that changed hands between the two main political parties—the United National Congress (UNC) and the People’s National Movement (PNM).

While the sixth, the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, still remains under the stewardship of the UNC, there was a significant shift in power between the two elections.

Following the results of the 2013 Local Government election the UNC were only able to retain power at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation because an elected councillor representing the Independent Liberal Party switched his political allegiance.

Starting this week, the Sunday Guardian will be taking a look at these six corporations as we count down to this year’s Local Government election carded for November 28.

A look back

The last time the country went to the polls for the Local Government elections was October 21, 2013.

In that election the PNM won eight of the corporations while the UNC won six.

This was a significant shift from the results of the 2010 Local Government elections in which the UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition convincingly beat the PNM 11-3.

The last time Local Government elections were held in this country before 2010 was in 2003.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission said the 2013 Local Government election was of “historical significance” because it was the first time that a system of “proportional representation was introduced for the selection of Aldermen and Municipal and Regional Corporations”.

This changed the number of aldermen to be elected to the corporations.

The EBC faced some challenges with carrying out its mandate with respect to the changes introduced by the system of proportional representation.

“There were challenges in giving effect to the provisions of (the Municipal Corporations Amendment) Act No 13 of 2013. Challenges which could have been more easily overcome if the Commission had been consulted before the bill was presented to Parliament,” the EBC stated in its report on the 2013 Local Government elections.

These challenges were, however, overcome.

The 2013 elections saw the largest number of people voting in a Local Government election in this country.

A total of 452,031 people voted in that election.

This represented 43.60 per cent of the total number of people eligible to vote, according to the EBC’s voter list.

A total of 429 were nominated as candidates when Nomination Day was held for the election on September 30, 2013.

Eventually one of the PNM’s nominees withdrew his candidature before the election.

When the results were eventually tallied the PNM came out victorious.

And now...

This year’s Local Government elections comes just over a year after the PNM won this country’s general election.

A total of $191.1 million has been allocated to the 14 corporations in the National Budget.

According to the EBC figures there are currently 1,051,115 eligible to vote in the upcoming election.

People hoping to vote in the elections have up until Wednesday to register.

In the build-up to these elections the PNM led by Minister of Rural Development and Local Government 

Franklin Khan held consultations on Local Government reform throughout the country.

Khan, however, said there would be no Local Government reform in time for this year’s election. The legislation is expected to go before the Parliament before the end of the year.

Both of the country’s leading political parties, the PNM and the UNC, have already started screening candidates to represent them as Local Government councillors.

Nomination day for the Local Government elections will be November 7.

What exactly is 

Local Government?

Local Government in T&T is handled through five municipalities and nine regional corporations in Trinidad, and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in Tobago.

The THA elections are constitutionally due next January.

Tobago will therefore not be voting in the upcoming Local Government elections.

Many of the community services and facilities in your community are provided by corporations.

Municipal corporations are responsible for the building and maintenance of local roads, bridges and drains, collecting garbage, maintaining parks and community facilities, issuing building approvals, and overseeing public health and sanitation.

Chag residents voting party

One day after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the date for Local Government elections, Chaguanas residents interviewed by the Sunday Guardian said they were ready to vote.

The residents also agreed, however, that they felt Local Government elections were useless as councillors still had no power without MPs.

Most residents also said they never saw their councillors and did not see any improvements to their community.

Still, they are ready to vote, and their voting will be based on party politics rather than the development of their communities.

Zena Mack, a resident of Ramgoolie Trace, Chin Chin, Cunupia, said she would definitely be voting on November 28.

Asked why, Mack said it was because it was expected.

Asked if she knew her councillor’s name, Mack, like many other residents, said no.

Asked what Local Government, in Mack’s case the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, had done for her recently, Mack’s answer was nothing.

Her property is well-kept, grass cut low, walkway swept clean, chores done by her son.

The makeshift drainage leading from her property to a main road was created by family members.

“We do everything for ourselves. I don’t even think having Local Government councillors makes sense for most people because I never see them. I don’t know who they are,” Mack said.

While her property is well-kept, free of litter and stagnant water ideal for mosquito breeding, Mack can’t enjoy the benefits.

Next door to her house is an abandoned lot.

“I want to say it is abandoned but people built a foundation the other day and then didn’t come back for three months.”

In those three months, the lot has flooded, taking on a swamp-like look, complete with caimans, rodents and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

From Mack’s point of view, the regional corporation should be enforcing laws to ensure residents of the borough are not faced with these dangers.

What the regional corporations should be doing and what is done, however, is vastly different.

Bishnu Ragoonath: People 

vote party not community

In a telephone interview yesterday, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath agreed that the majority of voters in the Local Government elections vote based on party politics.

“It is unfortunate but that is how our politics evolved. It has evolved in a way where we focus more about party politics and not community issues,” Ragoonath said.

He said in this way, Local Government elections were no different from the general elections.

He agreed, in theory, that Local Government elections should represent an opportunity to choose candidates based on their ability to make community improvements but said this was not the reality.

Chaguanas unique

In Chaguanas, unlike many other regional corporations, the votes are spread among three political parties, the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), the Opposition United National Congress (UNC), and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) started by former National Security minister, currently facing criminal charges, Jack Warner.

In the last elections, the PNM won three electoral districts, Edinburgh/Longdenville, Enterprise North/Esmeralda and Enterprise South.

The UNC also won three districts, Felicity/Endeavour, Montrose and Cunupia, while the ILP took Munroe Road/Caroni Savannah and Charlieville.

Despite the tie between the UNC and the PNM, it is the UNC that controls the borough corporation and its resources, after an ILP candidate crossed the floor.

It is also the UNC-held areas that seem, on the surface, to benefit the most.

While residents in Chrissie Trace in Enterprise sometimes do their own community upkeep, each cutting the grass on the sidewalks outside their house, residents in Lange Park saw a new pavement and walking track along La Clave road.

While another green space was given lights in Montrose, residents say they had to pool together and fix a four-foot wide pothole in Longdenville.

Residents on Ragoonanan Trace must walk a few hundred metres to place garbage in a dump, while residents of Edinburgh 500 have their garbage picked up in front of their gate.

It seems no one electoral district has everything they need and no resident is completely satisfied with their representatives, even when work is being done.

Keith Sampson, of Welcome Road, near Esmeralda, has no intention of voting for anyone.

“I see what they do. Look,” he points.

“You see we are getting the road repaired. You see the drain there, we got the drain upgraded late last year. I think they are doing a good job with that.

“But I don’t want to vote. I’m just not interested.”

Sampson’s answer is paradoxical but typical of many Chaguanas borough residents.

Either they see no improvements and are still willing to vote or they are seeing a lot of improvements and are apathetic about Local Government elections.

Chaguanas mayor: 

We distribute equally

In an interview yesterday, Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan said there was no discrimination in terms of development in the borough. 

“Every budgetary year, the money is shared equally between every single councillor regardless of party they belong to. Our policy is equal distribution on roads, drains, the market, and all development projects,” Boodhan said.

Despite this, Boodhan is aware of the challenges faced by borough residents: frustratingly poor traffic management exacerbated by frustrated and inconsiderate drivers, potholes which always crop up in the same place despite several quick fixes, and in some areas badly inconsistent garbage collection.

Some of these issues were created because of Chaguanas’ history of often unplanned development, resulting in streets too narrow for some vehicles to navigate, a high number of unpaved roads and streets that all merge, meander and confront each other in an unrestricted maze.

“We started to have smaller trucks and smaller vehicles going into the area. We are conscious of the fact that when people leave all the garbage in one area, stray dogs tear it apart and it becomes a hazard,” Boodhan said.

He said the borough also started an aggressive beautification and environmental project.

The borough also regularly celebrates educational achievements, with 27 SEA students from primary schools in the borough placing in the top 200 this year, and over 50 scholarship winners either attending school in the borough or living there.

Safety and security is still a challenge in the area. Repeated calls for a police post in the Enterprise community have not yet been answered.

“All in all, in all areas of life, we have done work in all areas,” Boodhan said.

He said the fact that people complained of not seeing their councillors was a historical complaint but added that all councillors from the corporation continued to work as hard as possible.

“I apologise if people are not seeing them but I encourage them to call us. You don’t need an appointment to see me at the corporation. People can call and I will visit,” he said.

Boodhan encouraged the Sunday Guardian to share his mobile number 779-7343. 

Cop goes on sick leave

One of the police officers involved in the shooting incident which claimed the life of San Fernando resident Adelle Gilbert on Thursday has proceeded on sick leave. The other officers are still on the job. No one could say how many officers were involved in the incident.

T&T Guardian was told that the officer who has gone on sick leave was involved in an altercation with Gilbert’s common-law wife, Alisha Richards. 

Acting Supt Yusuff Gaffar who has been appointed to head the investigation into Gilbert’s death is still compiling the file to send to the Director of Public Prosecutions, sources said.

Yesterday, Gilbert’s grandmother Daphne Gilbert, 74, who had to be hospitalised after she was assaulted by a police officer during the melee on Thursday was still traumatised.

The grandmother of 22 and great grandmother of eight, who was discharged from the San Fernando General Hospital after being treated for an injury to her chest, broke down in tears at her Laurence Street, San Fernando, home yesterday where the incident took place. 

Minutes before the shooting, she said people in the area saw one of the policemen wearing a wig on top of a tall commercial building operating a drone which was flying from rooftop to rooftop. When Gilbert saw the police, she said he ran.

“I could not move at all because all I hear is bullets. I was standing by the doorway and the police wanted to pass.”

She said the police officer cursed her and hit her on her left breast and she felt instant pain.

“Nobody ever treat me like this,” she said, adding after Gilbert was shot, “The officer say he going home and sleep comfortable. That break my heart.”

Richards, who was also taken by the police to hospital for treatment, was charged with assaulting a policeman and granted bail on Friday.

Budget cuts at 14 corporations

There has been a $30 million cut in the allocation of funds to the 14 regional corporations under the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government for the fiscal year 2017.

The total allocation to the 14 corporations according to the Draft Estimates—Details of Estimates of Recurrent Expenditure 2017 was $1,689,378,700. 

In addition, $37.7 million was allocated to Regional Corporation Services - General and $1.183 million to the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Local Government Authorities. 

However, there was a notable increase in the 2016 Revised Estimates for Regional Corporation Services - General, which was then listed as $7.5 million. Under the 2017 estimates, the allocation increased by $30.255 million. 

There was also a $418,600 increase to the T&T Association of Local Government Authorities for fiscal 2017.

The San Fernando City Corporation and the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation have seen drastic budget cuts for the next fiscal year with their decreases totalling just over $11 million. 

Although the San Fernando City Corporation received the fourth highest allocation of $143,337,100, it got the biggest cutback of $6,224,600. 

The Port-of-Spain City Corporation received the highest allocation of $251,753,700, while the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation received the lowest of $74,071,000.

The Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation was also hit with a decrease of $5.3 million. Its 2017 estimates were listed as $124,050,000.

Continuing in decreases were the Siparia Regional Corporation, whose budget was slashed by $3.057 million; the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation was cut by $3 million; and the Princes Town Regional Corporation’s budget by $2 million. 

There are 14 corporations which fall under the ministry headed by Minister Franklin Khan. 

Eight of the corporations are controlled by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) while the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) controls five. In the last Local Government election, the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, which makes up the 14th corporation, was split among the UNC with three seats, the PNM with three seats and the Independent Liberal party with two. That corporation received $86.4 million with a cutback of $1.3 million.

The Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation received the second highest amount—$193,200,000—with budget cuts of $1,682,500. 

2017 Estimates for Corporations 

n Port-of-Spain - $251,753,700

n San Fernando - $143,337,100

n Arima - $85,041,000

n Point Fortin - $74,394,700

n Chaguanas - $86,460,500

n Diego Martin - $109,300,000

n San Juan/Laventille - $183,678,000

n Tunapuna/Piarco - $193,200,000

n Sangre Grande - $90,029,000

n Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo - $124,050,000

n Mayaro/Rio Claro - $93,283,000

n Siparia - $83,133,800

n Princes Town - $91,646,900

Crime down in Laventille

When you think of crime in this country one area may instinctively come to mind—Laventille.

You could be forgiven for thinking that, because according to statistics from the T&T Police Service (TTPS) the Port-of-Spain Division of which Laventille is a “major contributor” has recorded the most murders in this country consecutively for at least the last three years.

But now, according to acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, (who is on vocation), “something good is happening in Laventille”.

Williams said according to the TTPS’ statistics, the Port-of-Spain Division is currently ranked fourth in the country in terms of murders.

The Northern Division, which spans from Arima and St Joseph, is now ranked first in terms of murders.

The Port-of-Spain Division is now also ranked fourth in the country in terms of woundings and shootings, again having dropped from the number one position

The Southern Division is now ranked first in terms of woundings and shootings. 

Williams said according to statistics 48 murders have been reported in the Port-of-Spain Division.

This represents 25 fewer people murdered in the area when compared to the same period last year, Williams said.

Last year for the same period 73 people were murdered in the Port-of-Spain Division, he said.

In 2014, 70 people were murdered for the same period, Williams said.

Williams made the statements as he delivered the feature address at the Beyond Borders Conference and Workshop hosted by the Rose Foundation in collaboration with the Hearts and Minds Programme of the TTPS’ Inter-Agency Task Force at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre yesterday.

Williams said the improvement in Laventille could be better seen when the statistics for woundings and shootings are analysed.

Williams said there were 96 fewer woundings and shootings reported in the Port-of-Spain Division when compared to the same period last year.

Last year 141 woundings and shootings were recorded for the equivalent period, he said.

For this year only 45 woundings and shootings have been recorded, he said.

Crime displacement

While Williams has lauded the decrease in murders, woundings and shootings in the Port-of-Spain Division the killing spree in this country continues unabated.

Murders in the Northern Division have now taken over the number one spot.

According to the TTPS’ statistics the Northern Division accounted for 58 murders last year.

The statistics for this year, according to the TTPS’ website, show that the Northern Division accounted for 80 murders so far.

Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran yesterday said this is as a result of the phenomenon known as “crime displacement”. 

“If this is happening in Port-of-Spain with the urban areas as they are in terms of poverty, schooling, parenting and the youth unemployment I think any significant decrease will obviously be a very welcome indicator,” Deosaran said.

“Secondly we have to examine the statistics and the investigations to see whether the decrease is due to more effective policing or whether the community partnerships are beginning to work in a particular area,” he said.

“The phenomenon of crime displacement is still uppermost in criminological thinking because Trinidad is a small place so it is like water, when you block one hole it seeks another space, so if there is a commensurate increase in other divisions with respect to the crimes that you are citing, if there is an increase, the question of displacement arises,” Deosaran said.

The Central Division, according to the latest TTPS statistics, is second in the country for murders with the Southern Division ranking third.

“We have done some research some years ago. Not only looking at the crimes and where they happen but where the offenders come from and we found that if a crime happens for example in Caroni or in Toco it does not mean to say that the offenders live there,” Deosaran said.

“What we have found is that there is a remarkable transmigration from one district to another and especially the Port-of-Spain Division because I have heard that the commanders become very firm in controlling the Port-of-Spain Division and the other high crime areas, so that if pressure has been brought upon the criminals they will naturally shift, so the question of displacement arises,” he said.

Deosaran said a proper analysis of the statistics must be done 

“We have to look at the statistics very closely. Not just at the end numbers, we have to look at the genesis and I think one way we can look at it is to look at where the offenders come from and the other related demographics in terms of schooling so we can present a more overall solution,” he said.

The tipping point

Williams said we cannot “arrest our way” out of this country’s crime problem but instead a softer approach to crime is needed.

He said he believes that the TTPS going into the Port-of-Spain Division and meeting with residents may be responsible for the positive changes being reflected in a decrease in crime.

“We need to be able to utilise the cumulated impact of all the small things that have been happening which are good to create what one writer has described as a tipping point. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point identified that there is some point in time when all the small things can come together and have a major impact. That is what we are seeing,” Williams said.

Williams said he hopes that the crime figures continue to decrease.

Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey who is known for his work in Port-of-Spain lauded the police in the area for their hard work and dedication to duty.

“I think what people do not understand is that there are some really great policemen that have been doing some wonderful work building relationships rather than just in the common perception killing and locking up people. The key to the resolution to the Laventille thing, which is not a crime problem alone, it is a community problem, the key to that is building relationships. If the teachers built relationships in school they would have less angry young people, so I would give the police a certain amount of credit for doing a good job,” Harvey said.

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