PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – A pastor with the Seventh Day Adventist Church is claiming that Latin American assassins are operating in Trinidad and Tobago and called for an all out war on crime.
“We have Latin American assassins in this country. We have Colombians in this society, hired by the godfathers who have the art of slicing heads and legs, training secondary school students to do the same thing in this society,” Pastor Clive Dottin said at the funeral for police sergeant Hayden Manwaring, who was shot and killed by bandits last week.
Dottin said that local criminals were being governed by international crime syndicates which were now teaching secondary school students how to kill and steal.
“Let me tell you, the criminals, the local mafia and their international bosses, some have managed to compromise our security and are directing murders in the country,” Dottin said, adding that Manwaring was fighting against this matter when he was shot and killed.
“This officer did not go out of his way to harass criminals and to be a bully. He did not operate that way at all. He operated with class and dignity so that the very ones he had a warrant to arrest were the very ones he tried to reform.
“Officer Manwaring put country before self. That is why he had this outstanding influence on us and his death must not go in vain,” Dottin said, warning “we are not going to win the battle against crime without integrity.
“While people argue about whether we should have a buying squad, a dying squad and a flying squad, Hayden was a member of the patriotic squad.
“If Hayden’s death has not touched you individuals who bleed with corruption, nothing else will touch you. Here is a man who could have chosen to go for a bulletproof vest, here is a man who could have chosen to wait for back-up forces but he felt lives were in danger and he sacrificed his life.”
Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, who spoke at the funeral in San Fernando, south of here on Tuesday, said that public assistance is needed in order to deal with the upsurge of criminal activities here.
So far 76 people have been murdered here this year and Williams acknowledged that crime was too much for police to combat alone.
“As the violence continues to increase in the month of February, everyone is pointing fingers at the Police Service to make that difference.
“Trinidad and Tobago, all the citizens in this land, need to recognise that we cannot sit back and ask the Police Service to make the difference. All of us must also seek out to make a difference as our country is hurting and everyone of us will feel the hurt and pain as young men continue to lose focus and appreciation for their brothers and sisters in the land.”
Meanwhile, Independent Senator Helen Drayton has said she supports the establishment of a “Flying Squad” within the Police Service to help deal with the crime situation.
Speaking in the Senate on Tuesday, Drayton added her voice to the ongoing controversy surrounding reports that the “Flying Squad” which had been utilised by law enforcement agencies in the 1980’s, had been secretly revived by the coalition People’s Partnership government.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has distanced herself from the allegation and has called on National Security Minister Austin “Jack” Warner to submit a report on the matter. Both Warner and Williams have also denied the existence of the Flying Squad.
"I do not hesitate to say that I would be very comfortable as a citizen to know that there is a police Flying Squad given the terrain of our country and the number of bodies that are turning up daily," Drayton told legislators, adding that “a properly established Flying Squad, competently staffed and accounted for is probably a very good strategy in the fight against crime”.
But she asked, "How do citizens deal mentally and emotionally with the stench that surrounds mysterious flying apparatus? Until there is clarification and hopefully there would be credible clarification, it remains a phantom anti-crime machinery that no one in authority knows about.
“Yet the police and authorities keep on asking the public to assist them with crime, asking the public to have confidence in the police and the security forces and that is what we are confronted with."
She said there were serious issues in the public domain surrounding the integrity of national security governance and it is this more than anything else that worries citizens, “since we are relying on the hierarchy of National Security to ensure performance at the operational level and to ensure that such performance is in keeping with the principles of democracy”
Drayton also noted that the gardener of the Minister of National Security had been murdered and the population told that the criminals believed he was an informant.
"Whether that was the case or not..., at the very same time those remarks were made and in the wake of the murder of Sergeant (Manwaring, the police chief was pleading with the public to give them information on crime.
“Now if people feel they will be murdered if they inform the police of what they see and what they hear, then why should they (give information)?
“How could they have confidence that they would be protected? Citizens' confidence and willingness to do their duty in the fight against crime is directly linked with the performance and the perception of performance of the police and security forces," Drayton added.