Saturday 20 July, 2019

Griffith denies having a "honeymoon period"

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says there has been a 9% decrease in murders thus far for 2019. He made the declaration as he engaged in a tit for tat with the President of Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA), Gregory Aboud, who called for an end to Griffith's "honeymoon period" in light of the country's crime rate.

In a statement on Tuesday, Griffith says he never had a honeymoon period, adding that there has been 50 major policies and initiatives by the police service (TTPS) over the last 10 months, which have contributed to ensuring that the situation has not worsened.

"The Police Service has been working tirelessly over the last several months to deal with a situation which caused us to be where we are, after 15 years of doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

Griffith questioned why Aboud made the comment as he pondered if there was a particular situation that took place recently, that triggered the need for such a statement. He further said Aboud's attempt to blame the TTPS for not doing more can be seen as clouded judgment, given that the TTPS has been doing more in the last 10 months than ever before.  

The top cop also boasts that during his 10-month tenure, there has been a decrease in homicides and violent crime when compared to what has been seen over the last five years, where the homicide rate was in fact gradually increasing.

"For the period August 17th, 2017 to July 9th, 2018 there were 488 homicides, in comparison to 442 homicides from August 17th, 2018 to July 7th, 2019 representing 46 less, which is a 9% decrease in the number of homicides. This was due to the introduction of a number of strategies and had this not been done, the homicide rate would have been much higher. There was also a 5% reduction in violent crime since Commissioner Griffith took office, so in contrast to Mr Aboud’s statement, for the first time in 5 years, there has been a decline in homicides and violent crimes. However, if the pattern of the last 10 months continues, homicides would continue to decline over the next 4 to 5 years, which could see the homicide rate going to below 300 per annum."

He says it took Trinidad and Tobago 15 years for the country's crime rate to deteriorate listing the following as the causes:

- Gangs having access to state contracts; Loopholes and shortcomings in the criminal justice system;

- Gangs using profits from these state contracts to form drug blocks, and purchase more illegal firearms and pay gang members;

- Certain persons in communities supporting and protecting criminal elements;

- An influx of illegal immigrants; contributing to dozens of homicides;

- Members of communities having no respect for the law;

- Some who may be able to contribute, instead try to blame the Police, instead of playing their part;

- Citizens not being willing to come forward to give evidence; which is one of the main avenues to increase the detection rate.

Griffith implied that the arrest of Aboud's relative, Elias Aboud, may be the cause for his criticism of the TTPS.

This, as Aboud was arrested along with Alex Franco for marijuana possession earlier this month.

"None of the above has any involvement or input of the TTPS, yet Mr Aboud in a very strange manner decides to speak solely about the TTPS. Was there something done recently by the TTPS that caused this?"

Meanwhile, Griffith recalls that in past meetings with DOMA, Aboud's main concerns had little to do with violent crime but instead focused on vending. He said he hopes Aboud may consider operating like many others in the private sector who do not just complain and criticize but instead come on board via the ‘I Support Our Service’ (ISOS) initiative, to work hand-in-hand with the police to rectify a problem that takes more than the police to solve.

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