*In contrast to so-called experts, countries with terrorists and gang activity must have police services with some degree of militarised training.*
The primary role and function of a criminologist is to determine the causes of crime. And to do so they gather data, conduct research such as interviewing prisoners and other offenders, after which they do analysis and make determinations about the causes of crime. This research is then used by law enforcement experts to determine policy, and operational plans etc., as a criminologist has no training in law enforcement, tactics, strategy and other policing matters, such as ensuring high visibility and having a rapid response to crime. This is why nowhere else in the world do we see the media always rushing to criminologists to get opinions on policing and law enforcement, other than here in Trinidad and Tobago.
This cannot be emphasised enough, since our media persists in contacting local criminologists to comment on law enforcement matters, when their opinion is no more valuable and fact-filled than any other civilian in the street. In fact one such character has a generic response for every question on crime, ‘transnational’, because the only research he ever did in law enforcement and policing was reading about the Latin American drug cartels.
In a newspaper article in one of the daily’s today, ‘experts’ are expressing concerns about a “militarised approach” of the police, and linking it to the use of excessive force and the violation of human rights, all without a shred of evidence to support their position. Unfortunate, misleading and potentially dangerous, this view is one that exposes ignorance of modern policing, which has moved away from short pants and a baton to deal with criminals, to one where tactical units are a necessity to combat the terrorists, both foreign and domestic, and heavily armed criminals, the likes of which terrorise citizens on a daily basis in Trinidad and Tobago.
Evidence to support my position occurred recently with the mass bomb threats at schools, and in 2020, when 150 men were descending onto the capital to cause mayhem. Tactically trained bomb disposal officers were needed to assess that the bomb threats were a hoax, and officers with ‘militarised’ training in crowd control and how to deal with riots, were deployed to ensure that there wasn’t a repeat of the 1990 attempted coup. In both cases they were not dressed in short pants and tall socks. So this proves that this type of focus on getting some members of the TTPS ‘militarised’, which pegged back these criminals up until about 2 years ago, works. Because the only way to fight fire is with fire, and to have officers properly trained and prepared.
Their linking of ‘militarised’ to abuse of power and violation of human rights is also baseless, as the evidence is Defence Force Personnel who are all military trained, have been conducting joint patrols with officers of the TTPS for decades without incident, and even during the riots and for the duration of the recent State of Emergency and Curfew, which the TTPS handled on their own, without the help of the TTDF, perhaps because of a similar ignorant thinking by then Minister of National Security Stuart Young, there wasn’t even one report of abuse and violation of rights by citizens.
And just as in the case of the attacks on legal firearms, which protect government officials, they have repeatedly refused to supply the TTPS with armoured vehicles, whilst they themselves have acquired 8 for their own use. Caring about their own safety and security, but showing little regard for officers who are easy targets in regular police vehicles as they enter war zones, is a level of hypocrisy that must be exposed.
The fact is, throughout the world, law enforcement agencies have a SWAT, they have a tactical unit, they have an antiterrorist unit, and they have a combat unit, which all can be classified as ‘militarised’. This is especially necessary for places with high gang activity where criminals have automatic assault weapons, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, the USA, and unfortunately Trinidad and Tobago.
To suggest that we don’t need ‘militarised’ training for some TTPS officers is baseless and just plain ignorant. To suggest that it will lead to abuse and violation of human rights is without any evidence and totally inappropriate as it can be seen as an unwarranted attack on the hard working, good and decent officers of the TTPS. To make these claims as ‘experts’ is unjustified, since as stated, criminologists have no training, qualifications or experience in law enforcement, and our media only continues to contact them because they are easily accessible to give their views, so reporters can have something to publish, but it’s misleading the country.
NTA Political Leader
WhatsApp: 482-Gary  / 483-Gary