Is TTPS “extorting” public with exaggerated figures at events?! Ex-MoNS blows whistle

“Nowhere in the world, in any business, [does] the provider of a service demand how [many officials] should be hired and the host cannot verify if the officials he hired even arrived.

“The host also cannot advise the provider of what they should be doing [at the venue] as the provider says they are the experts and would decide what needs to be done.”

In the following Letter to the Editor, ex-National Security Minister and Defence Force Captain Gary Griffith blasts the Police Service’s “exaggerated” manpower requests to private bodies to stage events:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) was accompanied by five police officers at the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) media conference on 20 April 2016 at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings.
(Courtesy Wired868)

As a previous member of the Protective Services I have always tried to preserve and defend its reputation, which is crucial to win over public support.

However, it is difficult to defend the present unacceptable scheme that is taking place, whereby certain individuals in Management in Law Enforcement Agencies virtually squeeze funds from private organisations. They [are] demanding totally unfounded manpower strength for events, even for sport and charitable functions, and the host is obligated to pay, otherwise the Police and Fire Services would not approve a bar license—hence forcing the host to cancel the event, unless the exorbitant [requests] are approved and paid for privately.

Now, it is understandable that these law enforcement officers would welcome opportunities to bolster their deficient remuneration packages, including overtime and extra duties. However, such initiatives should not negatively impact the national community, particularly with the hosting of national events.

The first thing some defending this scheme would say is that the law enforcement agencies are the ones trained and skilled to know what is the manpower requirement for such events. But this is the first misconception—due to fact that few persons in this country [have] knowledgeable security training [and are] able to challenge them on this—as there is indeed a difference between crowd control, which requires police supervision, [and] crowd management.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago supporters pose for a photograph during a break in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Being recently interviewed by the Audit Committee [which has the aim of] restructuring the Police Service, I brought this to their attention. It is greatly affecting the image of a body that is established to serve with pride, yet are using an avenue to virtually extort funds from the public, as they tell them: “you better hire this amount of officers, otherwise we would not approve your event.”

It has now reached a point whereby it [might] affect our chances of qualifying for a World Cup football campaign, since the TTFA stating that [one] consideration in moving to the smaller [Ato Boldon Stadium] venue for our next home game—which we must win and need maximum support—from the larger Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain was the exorbitant cost demanded by Police and Fire Services.

As a Security Consultant for the TTFA and TTCB, I have brought this to the attention of the National Security Minister and asked for him to meet with these bodies but, months later, there has been no response.

When every organisation voiced their concern about the ridiculous numbers demanded, the Management of these Law Enforcement Agencies used the red herring of “you never know what can happen and we would become responsible if it does.”

To clarify this matter, I have acted as Security Director for the West Indies Cricket Team at the World Cup T20 in London, represented the TTFA as Security Liaison for away World Cup Football matches, and I am the National Security representative for these bodies at the Official Match Commissioner’s briefing prior to all International cricket and football matches.

Photo: Ex-National Security Minister and TTFA security advisor Gary Griffith (left) surveys his surroundings before kick off between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States in 2018 World Cup qualifying action on 8 June 2017 in Commerce City, Colorado.
Looking on are Sport Company facility manager Anthony Blake (right) and TTFA manager Richard Piper.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

And I am involved in meetings with ICC, WICB, CPL, FIFA and CONCACAF officials, who know fully well of the International standard requirement for security. And, at every meeting, I am scolded over the ridiculous numbers, demands and excessive fire power strength that is used, seen and paid for at international events held locally—in total contrast to what is used worldwide.

[…] At a recent World Cup qualifying football match, the Police Management demanded over 150 officers for an international football match, using that same line that “we can never be over secure.”

However, when the next game was changed to a National Event—which meant that the host did not have to pay for the law enforcement officers—there was a reduction of officers by almost 50 percent. And the next game, when it reverted to the host hiring the Police, the number went back up.

So it seems that the “you never know what can happen” approach only occurs when a host is paying for Police and Fire Services.

Likewise, the system for hiring is ridiculous. Nowhere in the world, in any business, [does] the provider of a service demand how [many officials] should be hired and the host cannot verify if the officials he hired even arrived. The host also cannot advise the provider of what they should be doing [at the venue] as the provider says they are the experts and would decide what needs to be done.

Photo: A police sergeant from the West End Station gets a wine at the Sunny Side Up Breakfast party during the 2015 Carnival season.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

What is usually done is [the officers] stand in the best place to spectate at the event, as we all notice when the corridors are packed with law enforcement officers, serving no purpose of Crowd Management other than causing a management problem by crowding the aisles and corridors in contrast to FIFA and ICC Regulations.

[…] Additionally, overt use of weapons by security officials are forbidden, yet the Police continue to demand armed officers with assault rifles, which has caused us to be red-flagged on several occasions by FIFA and ICC.

At any English Premier League game, there would be less than 20 Police officers in a game being attended by over 60,000. What you would see are hundreds of Security Stewards, wearing bright yellow vests, who are trained to handle crowd management—such as scanning, clearing aisles and guiding spectators, which are not be done by Police and Fire Services. On most occasions these Security Stewards are off-duty law enforcement officers employed directly by the host [who can then instruct them and ensure value for money].

Below is a simple table showing the manpower strength at international events with higher risk, to what is demanded locally to prove my point:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and forward Kenwyne Jones (centre) offers advice to midfielder Khaleem Hyland during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against the United States in Colorado on 8 June 2017.
USA won 2-0.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago vs USA in Colorado, World Cup football qualifier: Crowd 18,000 with 18 Police Officers and one Fire Marshall;

Trinidad and Tobago vs Mexico in Port of Spain, World Cup football qualifier: Crowd 14,000 with 150 Police officers and 60 Fire Officers;

India vs Pakistan, Champions Cup Cricket Final in London (right after terrorist attack): Crowd 30,000 with 22 Police officers and one Fire Marshall;

West Indies vs Pakistan, cricket match in Queen’s Park Oval: Crowd 3,000 crowd with 90 Police officers and 50 Fire Officers.

[…] It is not for sporting events alone, that this virtual extortion takes place. Recently at a fund-raising dinner for 500 persons in a school compound, the Police stated that 26 Police Officers were needed to watch them sit and eat.

[Let] the Audit Committee of the TTPS properly deal with the remuneration package for Police Officers, so [these events] are not used as the avenues to deal with the perceived shortfall of pay.

Photo: A police crew on the beat.
[And] these officers should be hired—just as in all major sporting events internationally—directly by the host, so they can get value for their money. Or have these international matches [categorised as National Events] whereby the State foots the bill. Rest assured, realistic numbers would then be used.

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  1. Waste of time…daytime event ,they fightin fuh the nearest shade….night event in a corner cock up hiding to drink a beer… they dont perform their duties in ed or if they do it’s lack lusterly done..

  2. This article hit a few spots…hhmm

  3. I agree totally. I have been gouged on more than one occasion by them. I hope this engenders some inquiry and a newer and saner process.

  4. Well I think an ex politician should know a thing or two about extortion seeing that politicians are the number one extortioners in the country

  5. Lol. Wouldnot. Be. Surprised outside. Of. Politicians. The ttps. Is. Trjnidads. Biggest. Mafia

  6. They do and have been for a longtime now. When they come to the event they are more a guest than the guest

  7. True talk! I have been to party that buss! and there was more police than a controlled A/ C building…

  8. Sorry gary cant agree with you on this one……..

  9. People need to discuss issues and not personalities. What Mr Griffith does or did not do has no bearing on the issue at hand.

  10. From my experience you have to be very mindful of the officers. The magistrates decides the amount of officers but this is done on the advice of the police. The magistrates doesn’t just pull a number of of a box. When the event arises they bring half the strength or an amount less that was agreed to. The question is who pockets the extra money? At an event I made a register for them to sign, because I did this we were able to request a refund and get it for the officers who did not show up!

  11. Until a fight breaks out ..or a gunman buss ah shot

    • Ok. So hire 2000 police officers for a cricket match. 100 yrs of international cricket and football and never took place. Why – because in these events bomb searches are done. Weapons are banned. Everyone in searched and scanned. But say what. What does ICC and FIFA know. We Trinis are more qualified in security and crowd management and we know better

    • I’m sure America believed they would of never been attacked on 9/11 also with all there high tech equipment. ..but it happened..but say also know better.

  12. Mr. Griffith, this is not 1985, young people going to party with guns, knives and cutlasses. If

  13. It’s about time someone talks about this because I can testify to this… the amount of officers they want you to take is really ridiculous and they don’t even take non profitable events into consideration.

  14. I normally recommend 10 to every 100 persons, and they still have an issue with that.

    Could you imagine half of that 100 attacking my 10 officers?! Madness!

    • These same security don’t want to arrest and charge they depend on the police officers to do that.

    • In major sports events, the issue is not crowd control but crowd management. ICC, FIFA etc are all wrong ?. This is why you do not see hundreds of police officers. What they do is hire mostly off duty police and they wear the bright yellow jackets so they can actually do crowd management work whilst having powers to arrest. The present system is to pay uniformed police to watch the game

    • The International standard for all international sport events is 1 to 200. So a 40000 crowd, you would see 200 security stewards. Mostly off duty police and fire officers and about 10 uniformed officers.

    • Your recommendation of 10 to every 100 is interesting. So an event with 20000 persons, you would hire 2000 police officers. Interesting because by your logic, suppose all 20000 are criminals and rush the police. Then we should really hire 20000 police. And go one vs one. Anything other is madness !!

    • Gary Griffith the general public and contained events require entirely different security arrangements. The risks are different, and the confined area presents many challenges.

      If a bomb goes off in POS, there would not be the kind of risk as if that same bomb went off at a stadium or fenced party. The exit routes would be flooded and people would definitely be trampled to death.

      Also parties attract different personalities, who are risks, themselves.

      A wedding, a sporting event, and a dancehall party, should all treated differently, by my experience.

    • I am agreeing with you. Which is why ICC and FIFA has a 128 page security mandate that has worked and is adhered to everywhere except here. There is a difference between crowd management ( such as a 70000 crowd in a football match) to a massive fete( crowd control). Which is why at any major cricket or football game, you see no more than 20 officers. But 200 plus in bright yellow jackets. However they are off duty officers who act as Stewards. This is what can be used and have them replace private security.

  15. I have my experience with the TTPS and it is truly ridiculous the cost they charge for sporting events, fundaisers and such. To protect and serve. Really.

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