Crime has been a hot button topic in Trinidad and Tobago for a long time now. The public has been calling out for a crime plan to deal with what seems to be an incurable situation. It took a long time for this crime situation to develop, so it is safe to assume it would take the same amount of time to fix it.
Practise what you preach
Adults constantly judge the generation that follows them, yet they do not demonstrate the principles for which they frequently call. How many of us can honestly say that we adhere to the watchwords of Trinidad and Tobago, “Discipline, Tolerance and Production”? We all have a responsibility to instill in our children values that would make them modeled citizens. We just can’t preach to the young ones but be examples by our actions. We can’t be indulging in illegal activities and assume that our children would do as we say and not as we do. When our children grow up seeing the wrong activities as normal it is only logical for them to assume that it is okay to follow suit. Let us live the lives that we teach our children.
Obey the law
As a nation we need to adhere to the letter of the law. People have an attitude towards the law that apparently has a grey area that causes them to think, “It just doesn’t apply to me.” For years, the highway speed limit has been 80 km/hr which has never been taken seriously by drivers. Recently, this law was enforced and suddenly, there have been calls to increase the speed limit from members of the public. So, although the law has always stated that the fastest you can drive is 80 km/hr, drivers seem to be having a difficult time trying to do so as you can see them speeding, slowing down when approaching police vehicles at the roadside, and then speeding again. Also, it looks like some drivers believe that the 80 km speed limit also applies to back streets and residential areas. All drivers need to do is know the law and comply with it. This goes for everything else.
Make crime your problem
Some of us believe it is only a problem when it affects us directly. “If someone is being killed out of my area it is not my problem.” We must always remember the old saying, “When your neighbour’s house is on fire, carry water to your own.” Trinidad and Tobago is relatively a small place and what affects one neighbourhood will soon spill over into yours. We need to do our part as individuals because crime affects all of us. When our community shopkeeper has to employ a security guard in fear of being robbed by bandits, his operating costs go up. In turn the prices of his goods increase to cover this additional expense. In the end, we the consumers pay for it. Change your mindset, talk to your neighbours, and start planning together how you are going to make your community a safe place to live.
Report crime when you see it
There seems to be a class of crime in our society that is considered not worthy of pursuit. Since there is no law term called “kind of illegal” you need to see crime for what it is. There is a shop on the corner of your community that sells beers without a liquor license. It seems innocent enough because it is actually convenient for you. But, as the saying goes, “You give people an inch and they take a yard,” so you, the other customers, and the police officers need to ask yourselves if this vendor can get away with selling alcohol illegally then there is a possibility of him selling marijuana and cocaine as well. Stop ignoring crime that is in your face and start reporting it to the authorities.
Don’t support criminals
Sometimes the same people who complain about crime are the ones who support it. Bandits need a market for selling their stolen goods. If you are one of those people who would buy a cell phone or jewelry from a shady character on a pavement because you were offered a nice deal, then you are encouraging the illegitimate vendor to steal. Purchase your goods from law abiding citizens.
As we can see, crime doesn’t only affect all of us, we are often the sources of crime. Instead of waiting for someone else to come up with some magical solution that would somehow fix it over night. We all need to acknowledge that since we are in fact partly to blame we must work together to fix the problem.
We need to put pressure on our representatives, have positive active involvement in our communities, and interact with our local representatives outside the election cycles to force them to be accountable to us, the people for whom they work.
November 2016 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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