Dear Editor: Cockroaches, gun talk, and mamaguy; Griffith as Police Commissioner would be a travesty

“[…] Gary Griffith is not unknown to us. What is unknown, is the justification for this claim that he is a ‘change agent’. How has Mr Griffith’s presence in public life enhanced life in the Republic?

“For those who argue that Mr Griffith has the passion and the drive to solve crime, I ask you, where is the proof that he has done so? […]”

The following Letter to the Editor, on the possible appointment of former National Security Minister Gary Griffith as Commissioner of Police, was submitted to Wired868 by Folade Mutota:

Photo: Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith.

The process for selecting the Commissioner of Police is perhaps the most recent brazen demonstration that in Trinidad and Tobago, crime is not our number one challenge but governance is.

This process is not designed for citizen participation in any way and neither the government nor the opposition have made any attempts to engage the population despite an obvious lacuna. The process however has illuminated the enduring reality that the political class sees the masses as colour coded voters and not much more.

To add to our burden of rejection to have a say on who leads this extremely important organisation which is tasked with protecting and serving the population with pride, comes word or rumour that Gary Griffith is the government’s choice for Commissioner of Police and a confirmation by at least three opposition Members of Parliament that Mr Griffith would be acceptable to the opposition.

Such a tragic development is unfortunately not surprising in a land where mamaguy and gun talk gets one high marks for leadership.

Gary Griffith is not unknown to us. What is unknown, is the justification for this claim that he is a ‘change agent’. How has Mr Griffith’s presence in public life enhanced life in the Republic?

Photo: Ex-National Security Minister and TTFA security advisor Gary Griffith (left), former SPORTT facility manager Anthony Blake (right) and TTFA manager Richard Piper await kick off between Trinidad and Tobago and USA on 8 June 2017 in Commerce City, Colorado.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

For those who argue that Mr Griffith has the passion and the drive to solve crime, I ask you, where is the proof that he has done so?

Griffith was the advisor to former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar when she unleashed a state of emergency on this country. It is rumoured that one reason the SoE was introduced was to reduce the homicide rate at the beginning of Persad Bissessar’s term.

Griffith subsequently became Minister of National Security and claimed that there was a reduction in crime during his tenure. I suggest that this claim be contested and a robust evaluation of Griffith’s tenure be undertaken before we rally behind him as CoP.

For example, do we know if or how much of Griffith’s strategies for reducing crime were successful and what criteria were used to determine this success? What exactly did Griffith do to reduce crime and what resources were utilised? What relationships did Griffith establish with his staff in order to lead an effective ministry tasked with securing the state?

It is widely rumoured for example, that Griffith engaged in verbal abuse of staff in the Ministry of National Security in the most vile and dismissive manner. I wonder if that rumour is true and Griffith treated staff—whom he could not fire—in such a derogatory way, how would he treat the officers of the TTPS whom he can dismiss?

Photo: A police officer helps his colleague with his stripes.

Griffith referred to a segment of this population as ‘cockroaches’ and suggested that they should be stamped out. In case we have not noticed, so far for 2018 there have been more than thirty (30) cases of police involved homicides in Trinidad and Tobago.

Should we be concerned about the government’s policy on crime fighting if government is contemplating putting Griffith in charge of the police?

It is to be noted that in June 2018, Fitzgerald Hinds, MP for Laventille West made public his support for a state of emergency. Given Mr Hinds’ senior position in the Cabinet one wonders if the government is not signalling an interest in declaring a state of emergency in selected geographic spaces or nationally to stamp out the cockroaches with Griffith at the helm of its campaign?

If the “attributes which impressed this administration was Griffith’s fearless role in laying bare the LifeSport scandal as well as his firm commitment to the public interest”, I wonder if the government can advise on the status of the LifeSport investigation?

What would happen if it turns out that Griffith was being ‘over-zealous’ or acting in his own interest when he took that action? If Griffith is an ‘out of the box thinker’, then to what extent did he implement or cause to be implemented his celebrated 100 point anti-crime initiative we were bombarded with in 2010; and what were the successes?

Photo: National Security Minister Gary Griffith (second from left) shakes hands with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Griffith did not accept Bratton’s suggestions for improved welfare for policemen.
(Courtesy Trinidad Guardian)

Griffith has endeared himself to many because too many of us are wedded to the idea that violence must be met with violence. And who better to lead our charge than a fast talking, military man who claims to have the competence and passion to stamp out cockroaches?

Griffith may have the attributes that many of our leaders consider compatible with fighting crime; and this is largely because he says many of the things that they would like to say about the population. But he is not the one to lead the TTPS, which is itself accountable to no one.

The agencies established to provide oversight over the TTPS have been ineffective—perhaps due to no fault of their own but maybe because the TTPS has organised itself as an autonomous cell within the state.

If Griffith is made Commissioner of Police we will all have to live with it; and that in itself is the irony of life in a land in which even when crisis descends there is no room at the table for the masses.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    They will appoint him to lock up Unc crooks
    Not all

  2. Anybody have a better idea right now Please let us here it

  3. The Police Service is a unique environment whereby a person coming from the outside would find it very challenging to navigate. I.e Gibbs.

  4. Remember Jack Warner.. he was the best one for the job the best fixer and was he Fix……… oh yea the fire ambulance . So don t be fooled with Mr.Gary Griffith.

  5. A set of dotish comments as usual we all know crime is taboo for all of us in Trinidad and Tobago we love getting up every day to get our adrenaline going when we read about the murders rape robberies etc and then complain or make stupid comments and the vampires keep fattening their bank accounts from the crime situation and is only when we are affected personally we really want something done

  6. He appears to be the best qualified for the post at this time and maybe now because of his gift of gab we might be kept regularly updated on what is really going on in the TTPS in its efforts to fight the appalling crime situation in our country.

  7. The defining principle of this assessment of Gary Griffith becoming the next CoP is giving insight to mostly negative things. Never was it stated that the TTPS as an entity has hardly ever developed personel who could automatically be elevated to be the CoP. The internal system in the TTPS, through the modus operandi of the Police Association is clear that they are satisfied with the progress in the fight against crime and thereby need no outside intervention to assist. However they are deaf to the cries of the public for better policing. In life change is the constant when other options fail. Let us be reasonable and go for change.

  8. For me you could put the most dumb person in the world just more the current acting police commissioner !

  9. FIVE national security Ministers in the last regime.. No comment on the present one..

  10. He could hardly do worse than what has passed for policing for the past 20 years

  11. Mr Griffith in my view is the best we have right now, yes he has the passion, drive, he thinks outside the box, he is a change agent but as we have seen with many former ministers of National Security, unless you are a fearless commissioner of police nothing doing.

  12. A lot of people anal elastic is quivering…….

  13. How has the politicians’ presence in public life enhanced life in the Republic?

  14. At least we will get rid of the cockroaches… which is exactly what we need, just that nobody has the balls to commission an exterminator

  15. He is D man for top cop I support you have my blessing

  16. His appointment is taking too long and overdue. When it happens, l hope he doesn’t have to combat internal jealous rivalry as already he will be dealing with much as the extermination of pests (cockroaches), yes that is an understated term for the murderous, raping,thiefing criminals today. Sadly like most if not all organizations in beautiful TT, if the TOP BRASS doesn’t support you , then it is just a futile endeavour and we will all continue to live in the same fool’s paradise.

  17. We all are giving comments some open some seems afraid what the ppl of this country needs to do is the right thing and all crime will come to an end but no some wants it that way the way its been going as long as I eating to hell with the rest my hope is that the gentleman if he be successful he would clean house

  18. A flawed system will bring about a flawed result, if given the job I hope he does try to do his best. Reality is we screwed anyways till the system changes, we change and the whole lot of jokers pnm & unc are no more time for fresh serious minded revolutionaries.

  19. Here am I reading this letter hoping for some hard facts to counter his possible appointment only to be disappointed by numerous open- ended questions that serve absolutely no purpose. No conclusive arguments.

  20. Why wait until after he applied and was interviewed like every one else to raise all these questions? In my humble opinion, it was no secret that he applied, if people didn’t want him there, then they should have done everything in their power to indicate why. The fact that he was interviewed made him eligible for the position. I don’t think that he is any different to Gibbs or Ewatski who applied for the positions of COP and Dep COP and got the positions. Griffith applied, interviewed and succeeded!!

  21. He is more capable than asshole dillon to do the job.

  22. i think he will be a great COP,i hope he gets it,he has shown that he was unwilling to bow to pressure that is why he lost his job,he showed twice,once in the oval for cricket,and in the panorama semis where a large crowd was pileing up at the gates,to leave his seat and take charge of the situation

  23. Well those who have cocoa in the sun wouldn’t want him there. Remember he was Minister of National Security so he knows stuff and probably will act on what he knows

  24. Hiring people is like making friends. Pick good ones, and they’ll enrich your life. Make bad choices, and they’ll bring you down.

  25. Lets give him a chance, at least he has plans and is more agile than the others.

  26. Well I say give him a chance . he is a no non sense professional . people who want to continue to be corrupt and to be part of the problem rather than the solution , won’t want him anywhere near them far less have him for a boss . we need him at this time .

  27. Blessed good night I’m just saying nobody is perfect if however we want a perfect person for the job why don’t we build a robot and and take all what ppl looking for and install a program in the robot in that way everyone will get what they want problem solved just saying real talk. Blessed night my fellow Trinbagoians

  28. I will not even venture to read the author’s view, I am behind him 100%!

  29. Couldn’t help then can’t help now !

  30. We beating up on Gary. . . Leh we put Dillon then nah. .

  31. Yaa beat up on Gary cuz everyone else done a bang up job so far..

  32. Another member of the elite ready to work for the elite… Riding a wave of propaganda support…I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT YOU REALLY CARE GARY.

  33. KPMG graded him the highest marks, yet still people who don’t know dey ass from dey elbow commenting, gosh dese f*****g Trinis, hmmmm

  34. Just what we need another career politician running the police force.
    Don’t we have enough political influence in the service.

  35. Not only did he tell the truth in the witness tampering case, he was the one that admitted on the vice documentary that politicians in both parties are rotten and corrupt. I remember KPB being angry at him for making those comments at the time. I don’t think he is perfect and I don’t think anyone should expect him to be but honesty without fear, bias or favor is a good start to setting an example and changing the mentality of senior officials. I hope he does a great job lead to prosecution of the big fishes in Trinidad and Tobago. This country too small for so much blatant crime and corruption.

  36. Some of you are out to lunch. We need a professional policeman No baggage.

  37. Unfortunately the author provides nothing to substantiate her claim, provide figures and I will listen otherwise this is just ole talk. Give facts during his tenure

  38. We are desperate so the choice looks like Gary but there is no evidence that he is and ace crime fighter a good talker yes

  39. So all you want is change? Why not appoint your Neighbour then?
    You do remember that Griffith was national security advisor before right? And national security minister?
    Suppose I was to say I am sick and tired of people with short memories?

  40. I doubt that a candidate can be found that meets with everyone’s approval. Hopefully the selection was such that the best overall candidate was chosen. Now that it’s done, everyone needs to get behind that person and wish them well and give them a chance to do the job successfully.

  41. They don’t like Gary reason because they can’t manulipate he will charge all those corrupt politicians

  42. He is a critical witness in a very public legal matter, he has a potential conflict of interest. How can we put a clearly political person in this position???? Are we mad.

  43. I do agree with her assertion that governance is a major challenge in this country…somehow..the major political parties and even in the public service select either incompetent or value less or unethical and corrupt persons to high positions in this country

    • In EVERY sphere of the Public/Teaching Service, there’s a considerable amount of square pegs in round holes. This is because of the implementation of the system of ‘Promotion by Arse-licking’ as opposed to ‘Promotion by Competence’.

  44. He has ideas….as a previous minister of national security he used to communicate with the public daily on the crime situation and what is being done….he lost his job because he refused to lie for kamla and her minions concerning the witness tampering case….that to me is more than enough for him to get the job…a bit of a loose cannon is what is needed to help fix the crime situation…one who would not mince words…that is my personal opinion

  45. The author didn’t mention the Emailgate scandal in which Griffith was accused of playing a role. I would think this would be disturbing enough to invalidate his application. Once he is appointed, what happens to that investigation?

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