Demming: Today he used his power to try to get his son into national team, what will it be tomorrow?

1959: Then Minister of Home Affairs Patrick Solomon removed his stepson from the Woodbrook Police Station.

2002: Late Prime Minister Patrick Manning phoned the Marabella Police Station where his driver was being held.

2018: former Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte has an altercation with a police officer for the inconvenience caused at Dock Road.

2021: Lasana Liburd documented how Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith Sr used his office in a manner beneficial to his son’s chances of winning selection to the national football team.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) has a word with then Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick after training at the Police Barracks in St James on 3 July 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Rivers flow into streams you say? It begins with raindrops! These are a sample of the stories which make it to the media.  

The first three are examples of ministerial interference with the Police, while in the fourth example, the Police is interfering with the Police. What is common in each story is an underlying philosophy that, unfortunately, official office in our country can be abused without consequence.  

It is a clear indication of the extent to which our system of governance has failed.  There is a popular view that if you know someone in office, you can literally get away with murder. This ‘who-know-you-syndrome’ is eating away at the core of our society and it seems to be reinforced daily by our officials.

People are not naturally inclined to follow rules but agreeing to be part of a society means you have entered into an explicit contract to obey the laws that protect all of us. If our leaders continuously break the contract, what do you expect of the ordinary citizen?! This broken system will only be fixed when the example is set from the top.

Image: Cutting in line…

The holder of the position of chief of police has a unique role; his actions must be beyond reproach. Once that facade becomes tainted, the moral authority of that position is also tainted and the consequences can be dire. Sometimes the only way to fix it is for that tainted person to step aside.  

My argument extends to any public office but those which impact law and order are particularly important.

A right-thinking leader will ensure that our institutions are not tainted, understanding that the entire ecosystem will suffer and collapse if any key player is allowed to continue functioning despite their compromise.  

There is a view that the CoP’s compromise occurred outside of his duty and function and therefore should not be considered. I disagree because persons carry their characters 24/7 and the action taken in their official capacity cannot be separated from those in an unofficial activity.

There is a recent case in the United States where big name parents were caught paying bribes to get their children into elite colleges. This eventually attracted the attention of the IRS and the parents are now investing huge sums of money in trying to stay out of jail.  

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Gary Griffith III (right) runs down the flank while head coach Terry Fenwick looks on during a practice match against Police FC at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 12 March 2021.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

The bigger lesson is that in the US, there are consequences for every action.  Unfortunately in Trinidad and Tobago such lessons are difficult to impart and there is a strong tendency to assume that the wrongdoing will be forgotten in nine days.  

My deeper fear is that the CoP will walk away from this malfeasance unscathed, only to engage more boldly in using his powers inappropriately.  

Today it was getting his son an undeserved spot on a football team; what will it be tomorrow?

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About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a Communication Strategist, Political Commentator and Event Planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing Business Communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise holds an MBA, a B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and a certificate Mass Communications from UWI.

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  1. Nobody in TT cares about this issue, except maybe the writer of this blogpost. It is part of TT culture and you can already see it in the competition for spots in a prestige school which supposedly are “the better schools”. If somebody can get their child a place in a prestige school, job, financial benefit etc. they will do it, I would do it, most of you would do it, some of you reading this have already done it or you yourself benefited from your parents doing it for you. Are you going to give back your privilige?
    Are you going to report your parents to the police?
    Don’t come with some faux morality about nepotism in this nation called Trinidad and Tobago.

  2. Slippery slopes. Someone needs to rein this very public abuse of position in a way that is decisive but tactful. Wish the author could have stuck to the topic of the title instead of trying to kill so many birds with one stone, but I guess opportunity knocked.

  3. My goodness…
    Ms. Demming has witten this article to question the integrity and character of the CoP, whilst simultaneously presenting an edited timeline that only exposes the alleged abuses of power by select PNM Officials! According to ms. demming’s timeline, no vulgar abuses of power occurred during NAR/UNC 1986-1991, neither during UNC’s 1st term under basdeo panday, nor it’s second term under Kamla as Peoples Partnership (UNC,COP,MSJ,NJAC).The great irony of ms. demming’s article, is that her own integrity and character come into focus much more than the supposedly desrving targets. SMDH

    • I would appreciate you providing the evidence to support this statement: The great irony of ms. demming’s article, is that her own integrity and character come into focus much more than the supposedly desrving targets. SMDH.

      • Lasana Liburd

        Dennise, listening to Fazeer Mohammed’s plea for Trinidad and Tobago citizens to stand for change… It hit home that there ARE people who stand up and say ‘this is wrong’. The problem is rather than support those persons, their compatriots instead throw rocks at them. They are so petrified at change.
        So I salute persons like yourself who take from your own time to call for change, although I know there will always be people who are quick to belittle that action.

    • Some herrings are red.
      Some red herrings are yellow.
      Herrings are fish.
      There is something fishy in this defense of the COP.

    • You mean like when they find weed at the PM’s home. An incident that had big policemen jumping through hoops calling it a ‘plant like substance’ or Glen Ramadarsingh playing hansy pansy with the rear of an air hostess on a flight from Scarborough to POS and similarly trying to extort sex from a woman seeking a NHA house. Or even Panday being accused of sexually harassing a member of his office staff (case was eventually dropped if my memory serves me correctly). The biggest though is the section 34 fiasco in which an attempt was made to use no lesser institution than the country’s parliament to grant some sort of immunity to some high profile party financiers. These are but a few examples out of many that might have been mentioned. There are many more incidents of abuse of power out there worthy of recall. This may simply be a case of the author taking the path of least resistance. The likelihood of backlash from the persons mentioned are zero at this time.

      • Thanks, this is a great start to listing the malfeasance committed over time. Each of them needs to be dealt with and citizens need to point them out and ask for justice. Glad to know that you are on-board with such an effort.

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