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Pressure on Jack Warner

Although there have been 35 homicides in the 24 days since Jack Warner was appointed National Security Minister, the first murders to draw the personal attention of the Prime Minister’s action man were those of two Chinese nationals.

The great concern expressed by Minister Warner sent a message that foreigners’ lives were more important than local ones. Told that one victim, Wu Xia Hua, kept a key ring with his photo in her pocket, Warner said this was an even greater spur for him to ensure that the criminals in this case were brought to justice. Again, the implication seems to be that the daily killings are not sufficient motive for Warner to get cracking.

This was surely not the National Security Minister’s intention, but no other homicides got such a hands-on response from the man charged with instituting crime reduction policies. Moreover, the Chinese ambassador’s claim that Chinese businesspersons are being targeted by criminals is true only to the extent that all persons who are perceived to be affluent and vulnerable are targets for bandits.

If 60-year-old Wu and her husband, 59-year-old Yang Jiang Hua, decided to settle here because they loved Trinidad, as their son told the Express, they did so in full knowledge that this country has a murder rate of over 30 per 100,000 people, as compared to their homeland, where the rate is under two per 100,000.

It is that high toll which Warner, to repeat, touted by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as a “man of action”, was appointed to bring down. And, while nobody expects results in three weeks, the fact remains that the sudden crime surge is happening on Warner’s watch.

To the extent that criminals respond to signals from those in authority, Warner’s shoot-from-the-mouth style, and seeming preference for gallery over goals, may have emboldened bandits to play themselves even more. That his first priority was removal of a protesters’ camp, and the fact that Warner carried out this particular action under dubious legal sanction, certainly wouldn’t have convinced criminals that a serious sheriff was in town.

So, even if three weeks is too short a period for results, it is still too long a time for no new crime-fighting initiatives to be announced. Visiting police stations unannounced is not a plan. What is National Security Minister Warner going to do to improve crime detection rates? Raise conviction rates in the courts? Reduce murders, rapes, and robberies?

These are tall orders, and no sensible person expects miracles. What citizens do expect is sober recommendations, rather than just PR, from the National Security Minister. So far, the reverse has been the case.

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