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Dear Editor: ‘One shot, one kill’ is common sense; T&T intelligentsia is taking CoP statement out of context

“The CoP has also made it pellucidly clear that his statement was not a licence to kill unarmed perpetrators or perpetrators, who do not pose an imminent threat and are armed with lethal weapons… How much clearer can the CoP be?”

The following Letter to the Editor regarding criticism of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s ‘one shot, one kill’ remark in dealing with potential threats to officers was submitted by Louis Winston Williams of Maharaj Trace, St Augustine:

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
(Copyright TTPS)

There is an old adage that: ‘common sense is not so common’. ‘Common sense make before book’ is another old saying.

Against this background, what has gone wrong with some in the the intelligentsia in T&T? The man in the street is light years ahead of them.

I am appalled by the recent invective—by some in the intelligentsia—stemming from the Commissioner of Police’s ‘one shot, one kill’ statement and his accompanying comments. The CoP’s  statement, caveat, and other comments on this matter, appear to me and the vast majority of law abiding citizens to be axiomatic (self evident/unquestionable).

As I understand it, the CoP is warning prospective perpetrators that if they shoot at the police with a firearm—or for that matter use other lethal weapons—the police will shoot back and their target practice training requires them to shoot at the head and/or chest, which is very likely to result in the death of the perpetrators, given that those are very sensitive areas of the human anatomy.

Policemen are trained marksmen who are economical in the use of their ammunition, and have deadly aim. The CoP has made it clear that, in such circumstances, the perpetrators would have placed the police in a position where the response time is in nanoseconds, and any delay could result in death or serious injury to the officer concerned, other officers or innocent by-standers.

Furthermore, the popular notion that perpetrators ought to be shot in their arms or legs could also result in such perpetrators firing back at the police, with disastrous consequences for the police and by-standers.

Photo: A thug shows off his weapon in Trinidad.
[…] The CoP has also made it pellucidly clear that his statement was not a licence to kill unarmed perpetrators or perpetrators who do not pose an imminent threat and are armed with lethal weapons. He stressed that any officer using excessive force will face the full brunt of the law, and they are aware of their role and functions based on their training.

The CoP was simply using the opportunity to educate the public on this matter, including the  dispelling of myths—such as shoot them in the foot. Incidentally, it should  be noted that firearms are not the only objects that are potential lethal weapons. The CoP also dealt with this issue.

[…] The CoP has also been a strong advocate for the introduction of non-lethal weapons, such as pepper spray and tasers, for the use by the police. How much clearer can the CoP be?

In this context, I have heard some absurd comments by some in the intelligentsia, a few of which are stated below:

  • the CoP needs a communications expert to help him craft his statements/responses on this matter, as they are rude, very confusing and certainly not clear;
  • the CoP seems eager to kill people;
  • the CoP should be reported to the Police Service Commission for responding to his critics (an obvious bullying tactic… He should politely accept criticism from his ‘betters’ and ought not to question the affiliations/interests/competence, etc of his critics);
  • it is a free country and, therefore, it is the democratic right of the intelligentsia to criticise the CoP’s statements (presumably, the CoP does not enjoy the same democratic rights to respond to their criticisms, as he is some kind of slave/subservient creature/lackey);
Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) makes a point to TV6 Morning Show host Fazeer Mohammed.
  • the CoP is wasting time responding to his critics, and should be utilising that time in crime fighting strategies, tactics, activities, etc (no cognisance is taken to the effect that a lack of response to such unwarranted criticisms would have on morale within the TTPS, and the psyche/perception of the general public, who might form the opinion that the criticisms of the CoP are valid and that is why he has failed to respond);
  • trigger happy police will use the CoP’s statement as a ‘blanket authorisation’ to shoot to kill, perhaps, even unarmed perpetrators (that some police officers are so ‘dotish’, illiterate, poorly trained, poorly supervised, and lacking in leadership, that they will go on a killing spree).
[…] I have no doubt that there are persons who have been cavalier, reckless, and mischievous in their comments on the CoP’s ‘one shot, one kill’ statement. They must fix that!

Thankfully, however, the CoP and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley are not on that list. It is also quite obvious that the CoP’s statement has been taken completely out of context.

Do I need to ask, why?

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24 comments

  1. Trinidadians love to hear the sound of their own voices despite their ignorance. They love conspiracy theories and slangy expressions. They also feel dey bright. That’s why Sandals is not coming any more.

  2. I have worked with a number of people who had lost their respect for their fellow human beings. In every case it was because they felt that no one cared for them.

  3. “Policemen are trained marksmen who are economical in the use of their ammunition, and have deadly aim. ”

    When I read that sentence, I laughed so much, I nearly peed myself.

    The evidence I’ve gathered from news reports over the years show the reverse is actually true… police are notoriously bad shots and ‘accidentally’ kill many, including their own… inside the police stations even.

  4. In one instance police shot four in men inside a house, one of whom they said fired a gun. They removed their bodies from a crime scene, put their bodies in a police vehicle and removed them to the hospital. There was confusion about why police entered the house. Whether they were ‘just passing by’. The Police Commissioner wasn’t there. The writer of the article sounds like GG defending his arse. Everyone wants the law to be upheld and for police to be doing their job – finally. Everyone wants corruption in the police force dealt with. Everyone would support the Police and the Commisioner in the proper execution of their duties. Nobody is saying that police can’t use deadly force where it is absolutely necessary. The so called intelligentsia is providing a mirror’. The Police Commissioner doesn’t like what he sees. Shame he isn’t emotionally equipped to know that but with the right support he could be.

    • Jo Ann how did the officer get shot ? There was no confusion , don’t have illegal firearms and shoot at the police, it’s simple.

    • Angel Stewart All of the Police Officers didn’t shoot the man with the gun.

    • Jo Ann unfortunate , but irrelevant. Don’t shoot at the police.

    • Angel Stewart
      At least three of the young black men didn’t shoot. I think that is very relevant.
      I respect your right to your opinion.

    • Persons keep misusing this term “young black men” to somehow suggest that race is the reason why they get killed. Yet these same “young black men” are the ones committing most of the heinous crimes in this country. Why dont we find out why this is happening instead and try to do something about it.

    • Kev In changing the environment

    • Angel Stewart the right to self defence is well established. However the force used must be proportional to the threat and used in such a way as to neutralise that threat. How then can it be justified that four men were killed and only one was armed and reportedly posed a threat to the police officers? Unless of course they passed the gun around as the shootings erupted.

    • I won’t comment on this particular case as I wasn’t there and don’t know the details and I know how senstive these things can be.

      I just responding to a point Kev In raised. The question off race and racial/geographic profiling is one that must never be left out of these discussions. I you read books like David Trotman’s unsettling book on crime in 19th century Trinidad, it becomes very clear that certain old narratives continue to influence minds on both sides of the law.

      It doesn’t matter if both police and the criminalised (note the word I use) element are both of African descent. Old racist ideas regarding the innate or natural criminally violent behaviour of young black and brown people is what influenced the training and culture of the police in how they del with the public and when you compound that with certain locations that have been historically depressed, you have a very dangerous mix that often ends in one way. Keep in mind that the same antagonistic way the police/security forces have been acculturated to seeing people in those areas, or fitting certain descriptions, the same way those people regard themselves and how *they* interact with law-enforcement elements.

      All this is why i believe Jay AI made the post about changing the environment. We don’t really need to find out why all this is happening Kev In, we just need to read (over) the studies that have already done so. There is Trotman’s book to show the historical/sociological links, there are also the works of Ramesh Deosaran and Dairius Figueira. But these aren’t political party hacks and so a lot of what they say is not going to find favour among those who want instant results or those who only want to have people like Mr Griffith deal with the symptoms, NOT the causes.

    • Four mentogether in the dark and one fires at the police. Now that wasn’t that hard was it?

  5. The writer appears to have similar traits as the COP as far as insults and intolerance for opposing views go. There’s no “one shot one kill policy” in the TTPS or in any police service/department in any functioning democracy, it is a term coined and adopted by military snipers. It was only when challenged for his remarks did Griffith seek refuge in the existing “Use of Force Policy” with reference to the use of lethal force. He cunningly merged the two together and sold it to the unsuspecting doting public. Everyone has the inherent right to self defence and the ensuing force must be reasonable in the circumstances. That reasonableness is determined in a court of law either by a Coroner or a Judge and Jury. Any police officer who says in court that when confronted by an armed assailant his intention was to shoot and kill his attacker would be in some trouble as that would suggest that he had options.
    “Police officers are trained Marksmen …” is false and misleading, Marksmen require a higher skill and specialised training and is ONLY used in law enforcement in Units involved in special operations like counter terrorism. Griffith is well advised to stop all the gun talk and get down to actual policing the prevention and detection of crime including 17 murders to date.

  6. common sense seems to be illegal in this country. we already living in a police where police can and do , line up black boys on a wall and spray them down, or put them to kneel on the ground and execute them. “one shot, one kill” seems to me to be an excuse to kill whoever they want, with no repercussions. many forget Tamir Rice a 12 year old killed holding a toy gun in the US, whose executioner is still policing. Just google “shot with cell phone by police” to see what i am talking about. in my opinion “one shot one kill” is murder, justified.