In her address at a sod-turning ceremony to mark the construction of a new $35 million state-of-the-art police station in Arima on Wednesday, Persad-Bissessar said, “we are trying our best with the $1,000 allowances which would be given to every single officer in the protective services.”
In addition to the police, she said, “from the new budget we will also give that ($1,000 allowance) to all other law enforcement officers, which will include fire officers, defence force officers and prison officers.”
Unions, she said will continue to negotiate with the Chief Personnel Officer “to offer to you what our treasury can provide at this point in time. None of what we offer, nor what you get is at all a measure of the service you provide,” she said.
She spoke about the national state of emergency and the limited curfew imposed on certain areas of the country to curb crimes. “The situation requires decisive leadership and I intend to provide just that.”
“I will not stand idly by while the nation is held to ransom by those bent on creating havoc and mayhem, and sometimes with the support of those with their own devious agendas.”
She continued, “let there be no mistake. I intend to take the strongest, most aggressive approach possible to rid this country of the criminal elements, and any of those who direct, fund, influence or otherwise support these nefarious activities.”
Committing herself and the government to “cleaning up the streets and the offices from those involved in illegal activities,” she said, “lawlessness must become a thing of the past.” She responded to a comment made by Leader of the Opposition, Dr Keith Rowley in a radio broadcast on Wednesday that current actions of apprehending persons did not require a state of emergency because that could have been done under the anti-gang laws.
She said, Rowley had not read the anti-gang laws properly, or, he did not understand what he read. Current actions, she said, were not limited to gang related crimes only but to other criminal activities.
As of noon on Wednesday, she said that 139 persons had been detained including 56 for gang and community related offences; 48 for drug-related offences; nine, firearms; three, homicide; and eight, other serious crimes. “Tell me how you would have dealt with drug- related crimes and homicide, Mr Rowley? Go back and read,” she advised. Secondly, she said the anti-gang laws would not have allowed the military to operate as they can under a state of emergency.
Addressing concerns about the country’s image abroad, Persad-Bissessar said, “My image is here in our land Trinidad and Tobago.”
“I am more concerned by the images of people dying, of mothers crying, of innocent citizens cowering in fear, of orphaned children, those are the images that concern me now.”