CoP asks for compassion, understanding for police officers
One year after declaring that he would transform the police service and reduce crime, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says crime has indeed been decreased.
And he slammed "critics" who he said continue to look after the well-being of criminals rather than law-abiding citizens.
Griffith was speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service's 57th Independence Day function held at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain on Saturday.
He said crime has decreased over the past year by some five to ten percent.
“I wish to say that one year ago today, there has been a five to ten per cent decrease in every major crime in this country inclusive of homicides, rape, kidnapping and every other serious crime in this country,” he said.
He added that the public is now more hopeful and have more trust in the police than before.
Griffith said while there are critics, they are often the ones who do the least to make a difference and don't understand what police officers go through daily.
“Within the last year, over 40 occasions criminal elements have shot at our police officers," he said.
"Over 70 police officers could have been killed in the line of duty had it not been for the grace of God and had it not been for their training. Thankfully, of those 70 police officers persons tried to kill, not one police officer was killed."
Griffith lamented that the media focuses on when criminals are killed by police.
"It doesn’t make headline news when persons try to kill 70 officers. What would have made headline news is a police officer in the line of duty defending himself shot at a criminal element. That makes headline news. We have to start looking after the well-being of the law abiding citizens."
He said between 40 to 50 officers have been killed in the line of duty over the years and this must not be allowed to happen.
"I don't want my officers to die for this country. I want them to live for this country."
The CoP said people must be more compassionate towards police officers who put their lives on the line each day to serve this country.
“Many times we have a situation where people criticise us, and we will expect that, but sometimes what we ask respectfully is for just a little bit of compassion and a little bit of understanding."
He said police officers are humans and will make mistakes.
"We all make mistakes. Trinidad and Tobago is only 57 years old, so we are quite young and because of that we will make mistakes but we will learn from our mistakes.”
Prime Minister Keith Rowley attended the event and moved a toast to the nation. Griffith noted that it was a break from tradition as the toast is traditionally moved by the President.
President Paula-Mae Weekes did not attend the event.