Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, has noted the concerns in relation to the Bail Amendment Bill, whereby, as with any Law, some would say that it should not be enacted as it can be abused by the Police. He sees this excuse as a usual 'cop out' in not doing what is mandatory to enforce and ensure law and order. The Police Commissioner seeks assistance for such a Bill to ensure that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) can defend the rights of law abiding citizens.
Statistics have shown that in the last decade, over 75% of homicides were carried out by persons with illegal firearms in this country. If this cannot be seen as a catalyst to approve such a Bill, then he does not know what is.
Presently, anyone who is apprehended with a firearm, could be released on bail and be free to possibly assassinate the same person who was the informant that caused their initial arrest. This improper system has proven to be a liability in getting law abiding citizens to come forward and pinpoint possible shooters with illegal weapons.
The Commissioner believes that someone who has been arrested for possession of an illegal firearm must not be granted bail. Further, he believes that possession of an illegal firearm is enough for someone to lose their freedom and have bail restricted for 120 days. The CoP says this approach takes the guns away from criminals and gets potential cold-blooded murderers, off the streets.
The Commissioner explains that those who speak about Constitutional rights being infringed, should also be cognizant of the right to life which is, in fact, the ultimate Constitutional right of all citizens.
This right is then taken away by cold-blooded criminal elements, who are armed with the knowledge that they can walk around with a weapon and if arrested, they can be released within 24 hours, if the amendment to this Bill is not granted.
The CoP says amendments to this Bill would ensure that a criminal is incarcerated for 120 days, allowing victims to come forward, with the knowledge and sense of safety and protection that the perpetrator is behind bars, which also lessen the opportunity for reprisal.
If someone is in possession of a firearm, it means that they have the intent to kill an innocent person in cold blood. The intent can be as damaging as the action. One does not wait for a terrorist to press a button to have them incarcerated. A criminal with an illegal firearm has the capacity and capability to kill 13 persons in cold blood with just one magazine, and 35 lives could be lost in a 35 round magazine, when they have semi-automatic rifles, which some also possess.
When this Law was enforced a few years ago, it proved to be instrumental to reduce crime, and the Commissioner believes that such a Law, if reinforced, can do so again. We should not wait until they commit the crime to then take decisive action. This is what has provided a low deterrent, as these criminal elements are aware that there are little, if any consequences.
The CoP says it is high time we start caring about the rights of our law-abiding citizens, and not about the rights of criminals.