Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Has Corruption Become “Normal” In Trinidad & Tobago

Crime in Trinidad and Tobago appears to be pandemic.  But it’s not. T&T is not an island of criminals.  With one point three million residents less that 25,000 make this country unsafe. 
We are. however, victims of our own education raised with a corruption mentality.  We accept it as "da is how it is".. Very few of us question it or realize that it is so because we accept it.  We are a society that understands the need for "a man to eat ah food"”.  

The means, they say, justify the end.  

As individuals we accept errant and criminal behavior; first in schools.  We admire the bullies and potential bandits and scamps.   Actually, "admire" is not the right word, it’s more "tolerate" because it's all about "my safety"”

Secretly we wish they would disappear, die or go to jail forever. 

Our youths grow up with a militaristic mentality choosing fashion to express our need to be secure.  The government actually enacted legislation to prevent individuals from wearing camouflage outfits.    

As adults we know the military looking security guards with pant tails tucked into boots. All things military intrigues us. 

 It is against this backdrop of security that corruption is so pervasive.  It starts at the top.

The new government, elected on a ticket of transparancy, there have been instances where valid questions have been raised in the media' still without adequate answers.

And, if you live here and do not personally know of at least one individual who have gained favors because what can be rightly described as "government corruption" then you have not been living here for long.

The next level is at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) with its own special blend of corruption.  And here we do not refer to the individual police officer but a systemic corruption.  How else would you explain the treatment of criminal activity in the service. 

A transfer is the harshest penalty an officer will get unless of course it's public murder which has already happened.  The more discreet are not so openly emotional.  

We do not need sophisticated polls or surveys to know that the level of trust and integrity of the TTPS is very low.  

Similarly, there is no need for a commission of enquiry to come up with obvious problems.  The system as it exists today gives officers a tap on the hand, "don't do that again ok" and they are transfered to a new station or division.  Maybe they are protected by the union but there are cases where even a union would agree on suspensions.  At least until all the facts of the case are known.  . 

When a police officer breaks the law and is not immediately and severely reprimanded the result is rippled through various segments of the society corrupting and instilling a feeling of insecurity in the citizenry.

Think one bad apple.  Even the "good ones" tend to go bad because they become "unwilling accomplices" due to their failure to report known criminal behaviors. 

Ultimately, the Chief of Police is responsible.   

Read this true story, an article buried on page 27 of today's Trinidad and Tobago Express.  .    

When you read it you would be amazed that this is still happening in a democratic society and that's with a Chief of Police from Canada. 

Comments? Suggestions?

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