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Trinidad and Tobago: Watching Crime & Dangerous Dogs

Two controversial topics are grabbing the attention of bloggers from Trinidad and Tobago: the recent arrest of the host of “Crime Watch”, a popular local television show and the proposed legislation against dangerous dogs.

Of the Ian Alleyne arrest, The Eternal Pantomime says:

Ian Alleyne, Crime Watch and TV6 are Charged for the toro toro (aka bullshit) they did to that child last year on the programme.

…People’s champion or not (I really not getting into that argument) we have to agree that if Ian Alleyne breached the law, he shouldn’t be above it. To justify Alleyne’s abuse of the law is to set a bad precedent. Now, for all intents and purposes, what is clearly a legal matter has been made into a political issue…Alleyne, all of a sudden has become the PNM [the current opposition party] poster boy for Govt abuse…so many more scary instances of abuse occurring daily, and the issue that get PNM People riled up yesterday is Alleyne’s roughing up by the police? I seriously have to wonder where people’s heads are at.

The blogger is very clear about the television station's role in the debacle:

I am also happy to see that TV6 didn’t escape unschathed (sic). You were part of the broadcasting process…clean up your acts…both of you.

While the show highlights criminal activity in the country and certainly depicts Alleyne as doing a better job than police there are a few changes I’d like to see:

less gore and dead bodies during a time children watching tv.
less of Alleyne in the middle of the crime scene
better production and editing
less showcasing of specific police officers.
statistics on how many of Ian’s arrests actually led to convictions!

In another post, she writes:

Crime Watch continues in court today. All yuh can’t say Ian Alleyne don’t keep improving on the entertainment value of his programme. No doubt with the expected increased police presence, it’ll be even more of a pappy show! And to date the real issue still getting lost…a child’s image was shown on television in a sexually (sic) way….Ian aired the tape, the station broadcast it twice…This was a breach of law. Yet the issue that has held most of the population’s attention is how ‘Ian get rough up’. Note that Attorney Om Lalla never said the police’s behaviour was illegal…just abusive. Can we press on? There are far more abusive things happening daily in this society that never gets us this riled up.

Jumbie's Watch calls Alleyne a “publicity hound” and goes on to comment on “the circumstances leading up to and surrounding this event [the arrest of Ian Alleyne], and the law as it applies”:

I do not fault the police for arresting him. They are well within the law to do so. What could have been handled differently, is that Alleyne should not have been given any opportunity (whatsoever) to gallery for the cameras and public. His arrest should have been done quickly, put into a waiting vehicle, and taken along to the nearest police station. Instead, we see him in handcuffs, being given full opportunity to speak to supporters at the gate, and rolling on the ground and on car bonnets putting on an excellent show.

I am yet to see that the television station responsible for airing the video being sanctioned in any way. Ian Alleyne alone did not broadcast a video. It is a collective effort of many persons and the ultimate responsibility lies with the head of the station. Editors and producers may have some level of input, but final responsibility lies at the top. They had broadcasted news of the arrest prior to the actual arrest…once again, it shows the hound that is Ian Alleyne seeking to milk publicity. It’s good for the ratings, after all.

kid5rivers sums it up by saying:

The habitual inadvertence of the State to ensure that, twenty-four-oh-seven, all accoutrements are in place to have a person lawfully apprehended access to bail may yet prove its undoing in Ian Alleyne's case and thereafter, as a right frustrated is a right denied in the same way justice delayed is justice denied.

The Eternal Pantomime, in a post in which she uploads eerily similar photos of the country's first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, and Ian Alleyne, has the last word:

Since last week, I’ve been looking at Ian Alleyne be treated as the next messiah…all that was missing in his triumphant march through Port of Spain yesterday were palm branches and a jackass…ok…just palm branches. But as much as I find some aspects of Alleyne’s show and his public posturing crass and vulgar, I see quite plainly why he is so popular. He appears to be performing…Alleyne seems to be doing for members of the poorer classes, what the police and government seem unable to do…fight crime. If ever there was a poster boy for ‘perception is reality’ Ian Alleyne is it!

And his success here just shows you how far we have fallen as a society. Alleyne sullies crime scenes, has no real conviction rate to speak off and breaks laws such as the Sexual Offences Act…and people are actually rallying to his side and asking that he be given a bligh because he solving crime and is the ‘voice of the poor man’.

His popularity has become extremely dangerous…so much so, that an arrest of Alleyne for an obvious infringement of the law is now made to be look like the suppression of a voice that speaks out against the government.

Bloggers are also being quite vociferous about the Dangerous Dogs Act. Jumbie's Watch, a diaspora blogger who lives in the United Kingdom, gives a bit of background by publishing the proposed legislation “in its entirety”:

Having read this Act, I now find myself baffled. Many dog owners and dog lovers are reported by daily newspapers…as being ‘flawed’.

I notice however, not one person so far has actually pointed out a flaw. Instead, they point to the fact that the DDA (UK) is repealed. That is a non-issue…the recommended changes is (sic) not merely to remove the 4 main listed breeds of dogs, but to be more encompassing to include any and all dogs that are deemed dangerous. So far from citing the UK DDA and its so-called faults, they should beware lest the T&T Government move into a Dog Control Act and put more responsibility on owners and handlers. At the moment, owners of the three listed breeds can claim to be treated with a large measure of leniency.

He goes on to list all the measures that owners of the dog breeds deemed “dangerous” will have to do, and ends his post by saying:

The fines and prison sentences are high, and rightly so. So far, I see nothing in this Act that is either draconian or unfair. Consider that the past 10 years, over 14 persons have been killed, including children, and many more injured, I think it is right that the onus of responsibility goes to the owners. If anything, I think this law is still too damn lenient.

Coffeewallah has a different perspective:

In 2000, after a spate of dog attacks, the then elected Government, in the usual third world knee jerk reaction, to appease the population cringing behind locked doors, declared that something must be done. The something consisted of a piece of legislation “borrowed” almost wholesale from the English. Nothing really new in the colonies. Except the legislation in question had been written specifically to deal with a situation in England in the 1990's, by 2000, it was already somewhat out of date and in any case, was ancillary to existing animal protection laws. In the Trinidad version, it singled out three breeds, the pitbulls and two others that weren't even present here. As per usual, instead of addressing the issues, we sought to put the usual band-aid on a festering sore.

She continues:

Pitbull terriers are a cross breed between terriers and bulldogs, bred for their tenacity and later, for their fighting ability. Man made dogs if you will. In truth, pitbulls, like humans, are products of their environment. If you condition any dog to be aggressive, whether a daschund or a russian wolfhound, that's what you'll get. And that's the point really.

Dog lovers in this country do not oppose legislation for the sake of opposition. In fact we would welcome any legislation that would get people to behave more responsibly towards their animals. Legislation that allows for the equitable humane treatment of the animal ensuring that they are properly secured, have access to shade and water during the long hot days, that they are micro-chipped and registered so that they can be traced to their owners when they are lost or worse, they attack someone. Instead, we have a craven piece of legislation being brought back from the legislation graveyard that singles out breeds and that is essentially punitive.

But Plain Talk finds “the rally planned by the Pit-bull owners to fight the law that has been passed to safeguard the public from these dangerous animals” rather “idiotic”:

One look at the group's event advertising and what jumps out is the capitalized ‘Do NOT bring your dogs'…it seemed like such a strange and bizarre admonition for a pro-pit-bull rally, I found myself asking why? Why leave out the star of the show in all his foaming, snarling glory? Is it because they know full well that the public associates any image of that animal with death? I asked (politely) if I could bring the survivors of pit-bull attacks and the families who lost loved ones…

I got to wondering as to how protests usually go, the things you chant (Our Right to Bite is just all right?), or what would their placards read – ‘You are infringing our rights to maul’ or the ever popular ‘dangerous animals have rights too.’ Are these people collectively right in their heads?

The best deflection of all is that there are no dangerous dogs, only bad owners. If this is indeed the case then what a remarkable coincidence that ALL the bad owners ended up choosing this one particular breed to mess with. Doesn't that strike you as just a tad strange?

He echoes Jumbie's Watch's support of the legislation:

I for one am very impressed with the testicular fortitude demonstrated by the Attorney General in bringing this legislation and making it law. I always say I will support anyone who is doing right by the people of this country, and this legislation, short of an outright ban on these rediculously (sic) ferocious animals is the absolute right thing to do.

Coffeewallah counters by going right back to the issue of Ian Alleyne:

Real change, real development takes place when we the people hold ourselves to higher standards. When we the people demand of our leaders that they think and act with integrity, that they practice governance by reason as opposed to photo op. That they construct rational legislation, they support equitable enforcement across the board. Perhaps like Don Quixote I am tilting my hat a windmills, but be that as it may, we must get to that point otherwise our country will continue its slide. Ian Alleyne's often vulgar, always self serving antics cannot be our only voice or form of action.

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