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. At least he seem to be more capable then the other recommended kicksters

  2. At the moment he is the best option.

  3. Winston as regards your comments below,Williams is the best man for COP, I disagree.Under his watch crime has escalated.Nothing new under him.Not bec. one is acting means you cannot institute new measures. If he had done so,with some results,it would have enhanced his standing.But his usual war cry was ——“Criminals Beware”—-and before he was finished, a few murders were committed.I was in an acting position awhile,and I instituted some changes, and they did make a difference in the institution,and I realised people were looking on,and I was promoted finally.I don’ buy into this excuse that his hands are tied at all.He has’t a clue what to do.Someone else has to be selected.

  4. Faris tail in trouble now 4 them guns

  5. This is another example of an ass with a pen!.no real value added to the debate by this article

  6. Give the man an opportunity to try and do something for our country where crime is out of control rats don’t like bug spray Rowley over to you

  7. Put a Hunter who knows the hills …forest…extreme survival skills to be cop

  8. Aye all you armchair pros notice how silent sll his milatary collegues are

  9. Then whom do you think will make an effective CoP Lasana? Reputable ones are definitely not waiting in the wings and the PSC only want to appoint one of their boys who will continue to allow them to non perform and run their rackets. Call one name whom you think is creditable and I’m on board with you.

  10. In life one must be careful of what they do and how they portrait themselves.You never know what is coming next.The stain finger and the salute.

  11. Bring back a foreigner. It was proven.

  12. He is the best man for the job he will certainly do his best and have Trinidad and Tobago on the it way to sucess

  13. Give the man a chance. Crime is out of control under the present police governance yet there are those unwilling to try something new. Gibbs was here and he left because of a lack of support. We want different results but we are unwilling to try something new or different.

  14. No politician should be allowed to select a commissioner of police period. Mr Manning f**ked up the process because he couldn’t get opposition support. But remember he also wanted to get rid of all the service commissions. He considered them a hindrance. The is why we now have all those public purpose entities. Like nidco. Nedco. Ceppep and the rest. Where feather bedding is the order of the day. We must also remember that Dr Rowley was part of the government.

  15. Can an army man who was ineffective as a minister be in charge of the police service?
    Is that demoralizing for the police?
    Isn’t there at least one good cop who can arise from amongst the ranks?
    Is the process flawed or is it that what is being churned out as a suitable candidate is not meeting with the likes of the present admin?
    Will police listen to this much disliked controversial person?
    Should a politician be the top cop?
    Contrary to what is being pushed for political agenda of a few, it seems that the majority of citizens do not think he is appropriate or fit for the position or even worthy of being considered.

  16. People profits from crime. Who brings in drugs into the country ? Is it not the people who imports cannot touch your eyes people.

  17. Whoever is appointed cop. Cannot do as they please. Remember the real power people.they will have to follow the directives .be smart.

  18. There are bigger people behind the appointment of a cop. They are also why the country is in the mess it is in .they are safe in their homes. Eats and drinks etc. We have to just open our eyes.dont get caught up in the politics of race . Just open your eyes.

  19. Stephen Williams still the best man! A neutral guy..thats why he was never appointed…All Govt prefers a licker and puppet like Gary……Stephen Williams is NOT a puppet..However since he was good enough to act no less than 12 times , why not confirm the man in the post? Since the process was flawed for all the others…well it should be flawed for Gary as well! Now it seems though like Black & Brown is OUT and White is RIGHT.A total injustice is being done to Williams a very fine officer !

  20. How can griffith even be considered when the selection process was flawed?

  21. A very good choice in the little time he spent in office he did well better than most A wise choice

  22. Trinis don’t want change from CAL old ways to making a profit now the TTPS we was doing business wrong for over 59 years let’s try something different please

  23. TTPS is the reason for this choice the instution has produced less than stellar chiefs and resisted any new persons who might bring about change, while corrupt cops and killers run rampant. People aren’t concerned with career officers taking the helm but want to a “Populist Zealot”. Griffith fits the bill.

  24. He has passion and that’s enough for me.

  25. The man is willing to try, i think he has the ability and the knowhow, give him a chance.

  26. God knows.,i hope get,s thru and shakes up that corrupt police service who,s members feel they can do as they please it,s always about their rights a lawyer for this a lawyer for that gary if yuh get thru rock dey boat boi make them understand the meaning of consequences !!!!

  27. HE ONCE SAID his function WAS TO Get RID OF ALL THE PNM pepple

  28. I dont think he will be much if an impact. But why dont u supply a name who u feel will do a good job?

  29. For those with short memories, a Trini trait, Griffith “reduced crime” by manipulating the stats. He had instructed police stations NOT to put info on crime committed in their respective districts in the public domain. This way several “murders” which took place went unreported. I recall bodies being taken to forensics on a daily basis and not hearing anything on the news about them. My bigger question is this: what is it about us that gives us this comfort that ppl coming out of the regiment are somehow automatically qualified to be in the upper strata of safety and security? Managing the dysfunctional ttps or any organization in this land for that matter, is not a job for a “badjohn,” but for someone with an acute understanding managing ppl,–a most complex and dynamic task. Not something static as shouting “Ah-Ten-Shun!”

  30. Calypsonian Mystro was so correct when he said Trinidadian relly dont know what they want.

  31. Strange everyone talks about the crime going down. Yet no one talks about the work of the late Mr. Joseph who systems worked until it was dismantled by the last government including under the advise of the said gentleman, we are speaking about

  32. Too much critics and know-it-alls in this country…stupes!!!!

  33. We had a great Cop in Dwayne Gibbs. But he didn’t like corruption so UNC got rid of him. Now look at where we’re at. Total breakdown of the system to hire a CoP. SMH.

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