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Dear Editor: Gary Griffith is no superhero; we all must do our part to thwart crime

“The resources were always there to curb crime, to make some effort to rein in a sector of people who have no regard for the majority. What was lacking was the will; the desire to make the country better and to do whatever it takes to achieve it.

“And this is where Gary has been embraced and why he seems to stand out like a lighthouse in the midst of a ravaging sea storm…

“[Yet] as a nation we certainly must understand and accept that we play an important part in saving ourselves…”

The following Letter to the Editor on Trinidad and Tobago’s efforts to curb crime—energised by new Police Commissioner Gary Griffith—was submitted to Wired868 by Kirk A Inniss:

Photo: Police Commissioner Gary Griffith (left) poses for a photograph with a supporter.
(Courtesy TTPS)

Gary Griffith is no superhero; and that’s true even if we believe that he is the right man for the job now.

For too long we have been a country weighed down by many senseless and unsolved murders; a small island burdened by heartless crimes, our progress hindered by unrelenting monsters with a vibrant gun and drug trade operating from well paved streets in gated communities to dirt tracks and back roads in areas with galvanised fencing.

A change was necessary. A change was needed.

The law-abiding citizenry yearned for relief from this perpetual hostage situation and this idea of being held captive by a handful of criminal elements. People have stared into the face of every form of human darkness for way too long, made afraid even to carry out their daily chores. The old, the young, every creed and race are victims; no one immune, no one safe.

Enough was enough. Honestly.

Gary, though, is no superhero. He was simply given a job and was willing to do as he was mandated. This is a concept that was seemingly lost to his predecessors.

The resources were always there to curb crime, to make some effort to rein in a sector of people who have no regard for the majority. What was lacking was the will; the desire to make the country better and to do whatever it takes to achieve it.

Photo: Two spectators take a selfie during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade celebrations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

And this is where Gary has been embraced and why he seems to stand out like a lighthouse in the midst of a ravaging sea storm.

In this regard former Police Commissioners were all acting, pretend lawmen who have done the country a tremendous disservice. While there is sufficient blame to be spread around, one need look only as far as Gary’s predecessor to realise that—even in the execution of basic duties—surpassing his achievements would be easily accomplished within a few months.

We have grown so accustomed to the nothingness of Stephen Williams and the inept manner in which he ran the police service. Williams, planted like an old oak tree behind a desk in his khaki suit, seemed so neglectful of his duties that standard police work is now lauded as some fantastic achievement.

In that regard however, we should be mindful that Gary himself works for the country and is expected to execute his duties in a lawful manner. Our frustration at crime must never allow us to give him and his officers free reign to operate as a gang who act as judge, jury and executioner.

There are enough gangs already fulfilling that horrendous portfolio. The new commissioner must do his job and succeed, but it should be done within the law. The country should never be at the point where, in our desire for better, we endorse unacceptable executions and Gestapo tactics.

Still, Gary is no superhero. He certainly puts on a brave and commendable image in the face of death threats and he seeks to confront criminals with hard-hitting responses and well timed images on social media.

Photo: Police Commissioner Gary Griffith (left) and his wife Nicole Dyer-Griffith.
(Courtesy TTPS)

Gary himself—fully aware that this is not a Miss Congeniality contest—is willing to appear arrogant or egotistical, if need be, to get the job done. In him is the clear desire to not only serve his country well, but to hopefully reinstate trust and hope in a wanting police system.

All that aside, however, his successes and failures are closely tied to how we choose to react as a people. As a nation we certainly must understand and accept that we play an important part in saving ourselves; and that the idea of a knight in shining armour rescuing the country singlehandedly is a myth.

To break the stranglehold of crime and the back of the beast requires more than just the good intentions of a police commissioner in bullet-proof vest, doing field work. It is going to take a culture shift within the entire service; but it is going to take our efforts as well. All of us. As a collective.

In many ways, we have all been Williams. Sitting by idly, turning a blind eye to crime and criminals, contributing in some way or another to the moral decay that has slowly poisoned us.

In many ways, we were complacent with loved ones, fully aware and coward and in some instances enjoying the spoils of ill-gotten gains.

Maybe it’s not to late to see that we ourselves have been planted in the same spot for too long. Comfortable, yet afraid.

Photo: Spectators look on during the 2019 Independence Day Parade in Port of Spain.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

Maybe now we start rallying behind a Commissioner who is determined not to fail and accept our role in this new wave is just as important.

Gary Griffith alone is no superhero. We all are.

About Kirk A Inniss

Kirk A Inniss
Kirk .A. Inniss is a Trinidad-born, New York-based author of The Black Butterflies and Lessons for My Children. Sometimes he works with the Writers and Poets Union, to write for his supper. He absolutely refuses to sing though.

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3 comments

  1. Not only in the fight against crime, but in many other areas we have lacked the collective will power to do the right things.

  2. My fear is the Gary will become the next Burroughs…