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Wait, not so fast on that opinion!

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September 22, 2009 by Fensic

I not too sure all where I going with this so if you reading it expecting a specific destination you may or may not be disappointed. Still leh we go.

One of the things I have noticed, and it applies to all of us humans, (can’t speak for other animals), is that we form opinions on things and are not shy on voicing those opinions even though in most cases we do not have enough information to logically argue we point. Here in this forum I think, no I firmly believe each of us approaches the sharing of our opinions with great care as I don’t get the sense that anyone here gets off on seeing his opinion ‘in print’ at the expense of cogent logic and sustainable arguments.

I have been both very passionate and expressive when it comes to my thoughts on the crime situation in T&T and how the attack on it is being managed or mismanaged and I have frequently questioned the sincerity of those charged with keeping the country safe.

Now being logical is a mandatory requirement for my job, (when I not laid off that is), and time and time again I have had to smile when I think I am safe in an opinion, that I have considered all possibilities only to find that damn it, there are factors I overlooked and my opinion is nullified. Well is smiling time again.

Last year the TTPS’s own statistics showed a woefully poor clearance rate on murders in T&T between Jan and Nov, if memory serves me correct. My reaction was almost instantaneous and I vented here as you all may recall. After all, solving 50 murders out of 480 or so was proof positive of pure incompetence, right? Weeeee-ell maybe not so fast.

I was subsequently reading about NYC being on pace for record-low number of homicides for 2009, the lowest number in about 50 years. Then I noticed that the clearance rate was down. Well one thing led to another and I ended up finding out that the murder clearance rate has been falling across the US since the 1960s. When compared to any major American city’s police department, the TTPS comes up short in terms of technology and its use, professionalism and I would venture to add, policing skills. So I asked myself why would the rate at which these police departments were solving murders be dropping? I think I have found the answer and it leads me to my, ‘well not so fast’, comment earlier.

In recent years CSI Miami and all the other glorified police shows have painted a somewhat misleading view of what happens when police roll up to a murder scene to begin their investigations. The false realities of those shows are in direct contrast to something like The First 48 which is an award winning TV show that essentially attaches viewers to the hip of real homicide detectives in real time as they investigate real murders in real American cities. The title is derived from the belief that the best chance of solving a murder is within the first 48 hours of its occurrence.

How does all this relate to how good the TTPS is in solving murders? Well I said in the beginning that I might not be going any place definite wid this so just continue reading or if you prefer just steups and go do something else. If you still reading, den good. Here is what has apparently been happening since the 1960 when murder clearance rates started to decline:

Gangs murders.

Yes gang murders. There have always been gangs in American cities, there is too much money I guess in illegal activities to keep them out. Gangs have always engaged in murders but apparently, the big difference now is the ‘randomness’ of those murders in that the victim no longer has to know his/her attacker. That random nature and gangs’ ability to intimidate witnesses. have combined to make the solving of murders an extremely difficult task inspite of all the sophistication and technologies that are now available to the police. Look at cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, two prime examples where the authorities are at their wits’ end in a constant reactionary mode to gang-related murders, many of which are going unsolved. I don’t have the exact percentages but I seem to recall a clearance rate in the 50s for Philadelphia and in the 30s for Chicago. Remember it is the teens for T&T.

So what do we have in T&T:
• Murders that may or may not be random in that there are most likely being committed by hitmen in it for the money. I have nuttin tuh support that eh is only mih opinion.
• The TTPS is only now coming out of its version of the dark ages in terms of 21st century policing.
• Gangs intimidate witnesses.
• The witness protection program does not appear to be effective at protecting witnesses.
• Corrupt police officers are still an issue.
• The relationship between the police and those to be protected and served is fractured.
• The management of public expectation of what should be occurring within the TTPS is horrible.
• The frequency of murders doh give investigates the ‘luxury’ of fully investigating one murder befre dey orf to the next murder scene.
• As Trinis we know everything about everything.

So the bottom line I guess, and believe I wasn’t sure where I was ending up with this elongated stream of consciousness, it that until and unless gang-related murders are brought way way down in T&T, the clearance rate of murders will remain low. We could engage in endless speculation as to what the clearance rate for those murders will be but to what end.

The ‘other murders’?

The ‘traditional murder’ where victim knows killer and they even related? We should still hold the feet of the TTPS to the fire and the clearance percentage for those murders should be nothing less than 90%.

The TTPS still has a ways to go. As for me, I think I reach where I was going with this.


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