On Sunday 11 August 2019, The Sunday Express reported that a complaint of verbal abuse and intimidation was made by an unnamed woman police constable (WPC) against Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to the Police Service Commission (PSC) and Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
The article, which was written by investigative journalist Denyse Renne, claimed that the newspaper obtained a copy of a three-page letter served by the WPC’s attorney to PSC chairman Bliss Seepersad, PCA director David West and senior superintendent in the PCA and secretary of the Police Social and Welfare Association Sgt Ancil Forde.
The letter described a meeting between the WPC and the CoP in which the former claimed Griffith threatened to have her ‘monitored’ and investigated by the Cyber Crime Unit for criticising him on social media.
In the following media release sent by TTPS Corporate Communications Unit, Commissioner Griffith responds:
At no time was Woman Police Constable (WPC) Beckles ever threatened or verbally abused by the Commissioner of Police. The article by this journalist follows the usual trend of attacking the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and its Commissioner.
It is therefore curious that it has been suggested in this article, that a letter has been sent to the Police Service Commission and other institutions, but this has not been brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Police, nor has he received any such correspondence. This begs the question, where did the reporter get such information?
The article splashed on the front page of the Trinidad Express by this ‘investigative journalist’ fails to ask the most important question, why did the Commissioner want to speak to this officer?
Section 138 of the Police Service Regulations is clearly meant to prevent police officers from making public comments through any medium.
The Commissioner notes with great concern that one officer who has issues, with no evidence to support her claim, has her allegations boldly displayed in a front-page article of the Trinidad Express, therefore, it appears that anyone who makes disparaging remarks and stories adverse to the CoP and TTPS is encouraged to go to this particular journalist.
In an effort to instill discipline and remove rogue elements from the Police Service, the CoP has also noted that certain officers have taken to social media to make public, their administrative issues and grievances—whether trivial or not—using social media whilst also making unsavoury comments publicly about the CoP and the TTPS, in a bid to seek sympathy and solidarity for their plight which as stated before is contrary to the Police Service Regulations.
Such actions, if condoned, can only serve to undermine the Police Service and encourage ill-discipline within the length and breadth of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. This is something that the CoP has been dealing with, thus, such irresponsible journalism does not help in providing what the country deserves, which is a disciplined Police Service.
To suggest that the Commissioner of Police utilizes resources in any manner other than in the interest of the country is nothing short of frivolous and vexatious, particularly when social media is an open platform, gaping plainly open for any user to see.
The suggestion that male officers need to have a third party present during a meeting is nothing short of a draconian and archaic suggestion, and further to which, the statements and questions advanced speak in a factual tone, which is therefore meant to mislead the public.
The actions of this journalist are very alarming, as her view of ‘investigative journalism’ is to repeatedly attack one particular agency. The thirst to smear the good name and Office of the Commissioner of Police appears to be at any cost, in the hope of vilifying the Commissioner.
The action of publicizing information—whether true or false—which surrounds the posting of negative and critical comments via social media by a police officer undermines an already struggling disciplinary process within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service inherited by the Commissioner of Police.
Nevertheless, the Commissioner of Police is undeterred in his quest to improve the discipline within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.