Prime Minister Keith Rowley last weekend confirmed personal ownership of the crime problem. That was the effect of his unshaken commitment to keep Edmund Dillon as National Security Minister.
Murders had reached 200 for 2016 when Dr Rowley was invited to reckon the record in office of retired major general Dillon. Indeed, the year-to-date murder count had exceeded that of 2015 by some 25 per cent. Understandably, the T&T murder toll has remained the conventional measure of progress in containing crime. Increasing murders, mostly undetected, remain a reflection on the performance of whoever is the minister under which policing falls.
The Prime Minister had appointed Mr Dillon, as the fifth former army officer to National Security Minister in some 20 years.
Dr Rowley has declined to second-guess his own decision about assigning to Mr Dillon ministerial responsibility for crime.
“The National Security Minister is working very, very effectively in ensuring that we put the country in a position to respond to the crime challenges,” he said.
That Minister Dillon is working hard is far more easily believable than that he is working “very, very effectively”. The Prime Minister did not give examples of the effectiveness he claimed for Mr Dillon in responding to crime.
Headlined by bloody murder, crime has continued to flourish. Meanwhile, what the public can recognise as output from Mr Dillon hardly extends beyond rhetoric.
The former major general has drawn upon the language of his earlier career to profile crime as a “theatre of war”. As commanding officer in the “war on crime”, Mr Dillon’s best identifiable strategies are those of talk.
“This Government has really articulated that we are adopting a whole-of-government approach which transcends into the Ministry of National Security,” he said. Defending his embrace of Mr Dillon, Dr Rowley correctly noted that, over its five years, the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration had tried five National Security Ministers. The former prime minister was more willing, than her PNM predecessor, and her PNM successor, to try out different human resource choices, and likely had more options on which to draw.
Under Patrick Manning, the late Martin Joseph held the National Security portfolio for seven years.
Mr Dillon’s eight months make too relatively short a period from which to derive a reasonable assessment of his achievement and potential. The Prime Minister who appointed him accordingly remains fundamentally answerable for crime, and murders. “We are in control of the preparations and support for the agencies,” said Dr Rowley.
It is thus to him that T&T keeps looking, so far in vain, for the outline and the implementation of a credible crime plan.
Extracted from T&T EXPRESS-Editorial