It used to be unthinkable to even wonder if the time would ever come here when you could wake-up every morning expecting to hear that someone was killed the day or night before.
But not anymore. We haven’t got near enough to that Damned Dawn to start believing it will happen, yet we cannot but continue to wonder whether this could ever become a regretted reality in our lifetime.
I cannot escape the daily crime reports on radio and TV, in the newspapers and on the social media about killings and their aftermaths — whether deaths caused by criminal or police bullets.
Some reports I pay special attention to, others I just add to the national criminal Totem Pole, but all worrying me like everyone else concerned about the rate of crime today and the society’s reaction.
That the police Cold Case File is so thick and the number of unresolved murder cases is just not decreasing in a situation where the Force is still too unable to convince too many that it has a handle on violent crime, is enough to fuel the causes of concern.
The fact that we (effectively) have two police forces patrolling the streets of Castries has not resulted in a lowering of the city’s crime rate to a level commensurate with the good and/or bad press coverage generated by their interactions with the public is a fact of life.
The use of electronic means to convey selected messages that do not show the force in a good light has elicited warnings from the Police Top Brass about what should and should not be believed. But in this age of social media without policing, the warnings are drowned even before they are sounded.
Students still go to school with concealed knives and other sharp objects, women on the night shift still keep scissors, knives and/or ‘Tasers’ in their bags, taxi drivers still have cutlasses on their floors – and a lady told me she is still ‘never without a little bottle of acid’ in her bag.
But gun crime is the new national norm.
Licensed firearm holders openly brandish them alongside their waists and people – young and old — with those handling illegal firearms simply keeping them out of sight, but never out of hand.
In the context of what crime has become here (and everywhere else) today, people are expected to take measures to protect themselves.
But when protecting yourself means you have to wonder whether it’s safe to go to places you always went, or what weapon to choose whenever leaving home, that’s enough reason for concern to transcend to alarm.
After three years, this administration has long learned that bringing crime under control is more of an expressed election wish or promise than something a government can simply achieve through Cabinet Conclusions.
Nor does playing ‘Hop Scotch’ with police officers and the public about the future of a police force still beleaguered by gun crime at home — and facing the heavy cost of US sanctions and European threats to do likewise, 36 months after also promising to bring judicial closure to the matters associated with the IMPACS Report.
This is the last weekend before the end of the 2019 Carnival, Calypso and Steel Band season and the national and city police forces are out in full force, each and both trying their usual best to ensure peace and order prevail during what’s left of the celebrations, at least between today and Wednesday.
All too many here do is hope that no one will be killed over the Carnival Season — and pray that, just for once, the police will be able to report an ‘incident-free’ Carnival Monday and Tuesday this year.
But, given what Saint Lucia Carnival has tended to become (at times) and what we’ve become accustomed to (from time to time), are those on bended knees only hoping against hope and praying for something that needs more than prayers?
For sure, we’ll soon find out…
Meanwhile, stay out of and away from trouble — if you can!