The Afterthought of 2,500 Cameras

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‘I would rather have had 80 million of my tax dollars used to root out corruption in our port system, where all the guns and drugs stroll on in’


By Alicia Chamely

ON Monday bullets rained outside Rose Hill Primary RC School in Laventille. A teacher put their students under their desks and tried to calm their panicked students. Two gangs apparently forgot the code of no mass murder around children. Silly gangs.

The videos of shaking, crying children hiding under their desks should have served as a wake-up call to our leaders as to the dire situation we are in, but it appears they are still sleeping.

Where are our leaders? Our political hopefuls are busy calling each other Mr Cry Baby and Mr Flip Flop on social media. Our Opposition is rambling about everything being a pappyshow, without providing any solutions. Our Government is holding “meetings” and our minister of national security is mumbling about the “business of school must go on” and we shouldn’t let those pesky gangs get in our way.

Oh, shame on us for being afraid of bullets and death!

I suppose we shouldn’t worry too much because our mighty prime minister announced soon, we are to be crime-free thanks to 2,500 CCTV cameras being installed around the country and some extra police patrols.

Apparently, these measures will make the criminally minded too afraid to murder, rob and deal drugs.

They will all find new legal career paths, put down their guns, move to rural Trinidad and grow pigeon peas, which will revive our food production sector, reduce our import costs and contribute to the lowering of the cost of living! Tada! Both crime and economic problems solved! Be grateful peasants!

Puh-lease! We all know CCTV cameras and extra police patrol are not going to do much. We all know those cameras will end up in some state of dysfunction in a year or two. And we all know those cameras are going to be purposely destroyed.

Am I missing something?

Shouldn’t we be trying to stop crime before it happens? Shouldn’t our efforts be focused on crime prevention rather than detection? Why must we always be reactive in the dumbest ways versus proactive?

I would rather have had 80 million of my tax dollars used to root out corruption in our port system, where all the guns and drugs stroll on in.  I would have rather had that money used to create more outreach and educational programs for youths in “at risk” communities. I would have rather had that money used on crime prevention versus detection.

But I suppose it does work hand in hand, detection and prevention, but cameras?

Now, don’t get me wrong increasing our abilities to bring criminals to justice is a good move, but cameras? Ehhhhhh. How about better forensics, a DNA bank, those things? Oh, and how about we look at our justice system, so criminals don’t get out on bail and go have a cheerful time just committing more crimes while waiting the 400 years it takes for a case to be called?

A lot needs to be done. And while we are waiting, we now have a generation of emotionally traumatised children. What’s sad is for many of our children the sound of gunshots and the cruelty of death already is a normalised part of life. All the counselling in the world will not help if you continue to be exposed to the same horrors day in and day out. It becomes a part of life, and it has become a part of life for way too many people in T&T.

So, forgive me for not being overly enthusiastic about 2,500 cameras and some extra police patrols, but they come off as an afterthought, a gimmick to calm the simmering crowd. It’s all a little too late and we do not have much time left before all is lost.


2 thoughts on “The Afterthought of 2,500 Cameras

  1. I have been monitoring the stories on our crime situation in the country and all of the comments in the newspaper articles and from politicians alike.

    What is disturbing is that the media tend to interview individuals in society who claim to be criminologists, psychologists, and politicians trying to get their views on how to solve the problem, but when I hear responses like, “We need a holistic approach,” “We need buy-in from everyone,” and things like that, it doesn’t give me any hope. Those are only words without true meaning.

    May I ask, what is truly a holistic approach? What is a total buy-in? Again, when we hear politicians telling the country that 50% of the CCTV cameras are not working, who are they sending this message to? Surprisingly, I am not a normal, everyday person in society. Comments like that can only give others a reason to continue doing what they are doing, as no one is actually monitoring them.

    We keep hearing that one of our issues with crime is the unemployment of youths and others who choose to do crime instead. We also hear from major conglomerates in the country that business is bad and revenue is down, but if we look seriously at the headlines in the major newspapers every day in the country with crime, can we not say that, while you are complaining about business in the country, you are also damaging your own enterprises with those headlines?

    Most recently, I saw someone from the opposition calling on the various arms of our National Security to come up with an action plan to combat the situation. But immediately after, another one of his colleagues is calling a press conference to say that he will not be supporting certain items that may be on the table.

    We simply have too many “politicians” in the country making noise every day, and that is taking our country down a dangerous path. All they are doing is sending a message to the dangerous elements in society, that it is business as usual.

    The only way we can seriously come out of this dark hole, is for politicians to stop their attacks on others. If you want to attack someone, please do so towards the evil in our society that is the cause of the situation. Simply speaking, stop promoting the problems.

  2. I absolutely agree with your comments regarding our policy decision to be detection-focused rather than I would say protection -focused. Trinidad and Tobago is not a safe place for children to live and grow. The environment is not protective. If it’s not protective for children it won’t be protective for anyone. Young boys poorly shaped by weak protective structures in home, school and community are on a trajectory to a criminal life everyday. That negative outcome is exacerbated by other factors, guns, drugs, corruption, gangs. Until we decide to turn this country into a more nurturing place by redesigning the conditions that put children and youth on a path to healthy outcomes we are simply wasting our money on cameras. The TTPS will keep watching these cameras and running after young criminals unfettered by nonsensical policy choices. These Ministries need to build a protective strategy – Health, Education, Youth and Sport, and ultimately Social Services. Until then buy cameras, cars and fight the very persons who have offered help. We are exhausted with misguided policy.

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