“[…] 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:
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?
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?
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?
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.