By Gary Griffith (Former Police Commissioner)
Watching Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is truly disturbing. Has there ever been a more disconnected National Security Minister in the this county’s history ?
Minister Hinds seems to be living in an alternate reality. This man seems obsessed with firearm users licenses. He is quoted in today’s Newsday as saying he’s eagerly awaiting a policy from the Office of law enforcement policy (OLEP) on firearms and that this policy will serve to guide all commissioners moving forward on the issuing of firearms. Is the Minister for real ? Does he even know the meaning of the word policy ? Why would he think that a policy designed by the PNM administration has to be adopted by any other government in the future ? The instrument of guidance for a Commissioner of Police as it relates to the issuance of firearms is the law. ( the firearms act to be specific). I have truly become convinced that the minister sees himself as the new commissioner of Police. It would actually be funny if it were not so serious. The Commissioner of Police is an independent office. No Commissioner can or should be guided in operational matters by any Minister.
Now all this is going on on the same day that the country saw multiple murders, civil unrest and details of a recent kidnapping still unfolding. Murders have spiked to record highs reach a mind boggling 77 in November and this man is consumed by legal firearms that have been administered over the last three years. He’s not concerned with the fact that decades of corruption in firearms distribution existed before. In fact he has brought back retired police officers/investigators to look at firearm corruption, ironically many of those same persons sat as part of the police executive or were senior officers when the very same allegations that are being made today were made then. They didn’t investigate it then but they are eager to investigate it now. Mind you the period of my tenure which is under review (for the 5th time) has not had a single legal firearm used in a crime.
Meanwhile murders for January stand at 15 after 10 days a 50 percent increase on last year. Kidnappings for ransom have returned and persons are blocking major thoroughfares. I often wonder why when I was viewed positively by the PNM administration and while I was assisting them with expediting their own firearm licenses and their friends firearm licenses how no one thought there was a policy problem far less corruption. The naked politicization of this matter can seeming be seen by everyone except Minister Hinds and a few sycophants. The real problem here is that the Minister puts politics before his obligation to the people. This is why he has been less than successful in every ministry he’s ever.
Why doesn’t Minister Hinds give an explanation to the family of the owner of the Chemist pharmacy in Petit Valley who was murdered last night and was denied the right to defend himself ? Why doesn’t he explain why that gentleman’s application languished in the firearms department with no attention paid to it for months even though he was shot at a month ago and a report was made to the police? Didn’t the fact that an attempt was made on his life spurn anyone into action or into prioritizing his application ? What was put in place to protect that man’s life ? This is just one case that I happen to know about. How many more like this exist ?
Carry on Minister Hinds. Continue speeding on your path to nowhere. All I can do is pray that this country survives.