Friday 20 September, 2019

Griffith berates media

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith via Facebook, the Trinidad and Police Service (TTPS).

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith via Facebook, the Trinidad and Police Service (TTPS).

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has blasted an investigative journalist with a daily newspaper as well as a local television station, questioning their reporting in separate stories regarding the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) and police arrests.

At a media briefing on Thursday addressing increased police operations, Griffith singled out an article by an investigative journalist on the Police Commissioner’s call for the ACIB to be removed from the remit of the Office of the Attorney General to the Financial Intelligence Division at the Police Service.

He said the journalist "did not do her homework" and published a misleading article, stating that she did not have the “basic common courtesy” to contact himself or Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on the matter.

In an article in the newspaper on January 28, he agreed that the ACIB should be moved to the Police Service. The following day it was reported in the same newspaper that Griffith had changed his stance.

“English is a very simple language…Had she done her homework, had she done proper journalism, she would have understood that way before that ridiculous, unfounded article was published to give the perception that the Commissioner of Police had changed his mind, I wrote to the Minister of National Security.”

Griffith said the National Security Minister has publicly acknowledged that he, as Commissioner, had recommended for the ACIB to be merged under one umbrella under the Financial Intelligence Division, which would allow for the Fraud Unit, Fraud Division, the ACIB, the Cybercrime Unit and the Financial Investigations Bureau to work together under one umbrella to tackle white-collar crime.

He took issue with the assertion that he had flip-flopped on his position.

“At no time did I ever change my mind. What I would not do as the Commissioner of Police is to blatantly make a statement to direct that any Ministry should have Units removed from them. I have to be very clear of my role and function and my responsibility and that the Government has theirs.

My role and function is to recommend and my recommendation has been accepted, and what it is, is that the ACIB would definitely come under the umbrella of the FID, which will be in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

So, Gary Griffith does not flip flop. I stick to what I do, and I stick to one thing which is what is right,” Commissioner Griffith said.

Meanwhile, as he commended police officers for their efforts during crime-fighting operations, he took issue with “certain arms of the media” and even suggested that one television station skewed its reporting by choosing to speak with members of the community in which the operations were carried out.

“But then, we will find outside of that the few thousand persons who may not like what we say, so I wouldn’t mention (television station’s name called) or others that decide to find the one or two individuals to speak that they have a concern with what the police is saying and what the police is doing.

Not the 1.2 million law-abiding citizens, but they will find one or two individuals... who will have their pants one foot below their waistline and have the audacity to try to question the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. That is their right, but it is our right to protect and serve with pride.”

Griffith said the Police Service would not be deterred and will continue its work in ensuring that criminal elements are pegged back.

“So, to (television station’s name called) and others whose names I would not call, we keep finding these individuals and I am sure what is going to happen is that eventually certain attorneys who defend persons of interest, they will be the first persons that the media will try to get their views.

That I think, is unfortunate, because, as Commissioner of Police my job is to put them where they belong. The job of others is to turn them into their clients to get them back out,” Griffith continued.

Griffith vowed that the work of the police in tackling the multibillion-dollar industry of gang-related activity will not be hampered despite threats on his life.

“It is not by chance that there have been more assassination threats to myself in the last two months than how many test matches have been won by the West Indies in the last 10 years, and there is a reason for that.

It’s because I am doing what is required. I intend to continue down that line and in local parlance, who vex loss.”

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