Sunday 26 January, 2020

Griffith to gang 'lovers': Obstruct us, you'll join them

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith during intensified police operations on February 1, 2019. Photo via the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith during intensified police operations on February 1, 2019. Photo via the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

As the police increase crime-fighting operations targeting criminal activities across the country, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is warning “lovers” of gang leaders against causing trouble when lawmen make arrests.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain on Thursday, Griffith said protestors obstructing police operations will be arrested.

The country’s policing alert state was raised from amber to red yesterday due to gang-related activities and murders, signalling intensified police operations to maintain law and order across the country.

The Police Commissioner explained that an alert state is raised or lowered based on the level of threat presented and informs the intensity of law enforcement required.

He made it clear that no one has the authority to take the law into their own hands and block roads.

 “No one in an area could feel that they are so big and bad that if we arrest any gang leader you feel you have authority. We will be walking in with several vans known as paddy wagons and anyone who breaks the law...if they are in love with their gang leaders, they will accompany them, they will join them,” he warned.

While he made it clear that the police would be moving swiftly on “punks” and “cockroaches” working to destabilise the country, Griffith assured the public that there will be no abuse of authority over the course of the intensified police action as he stressed that the targeted operations are intelligence driven and based solely on gang activities and homicides.

“What the TTPS is doing is in no way a degree of intimidation, it is in no way a degree of profiling. What we are doing is to make sure we defend our country… and I ask all citizens to support us in what we are doing.”

“This is not cosmetic. What we are doing is to make sure we peg back the criminal elements… the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, we have no intention to profile anyone or discriminate [against] anyone. What we would do is discriminate [against] anyone who would break the law, regardless of where you are or who you are.”

Griffith said all persons of interests will be monitored, including those who turn a blind eye to crime due to personal financial gain.

Asked whether there was protection being provided to gang elements by some police officers, the Police Commissioner said performance monitoring and other measures are being put in place to ensure accountability within the service.

He said polygraph testing is also on the way, from the highest-ranking officers to the lowest.

“We are able to measure their performance and make sure that if these police officers are doing something wrong based on intelligence but we don’t have evidence I am not going to put them in a strategic location.”

“It’s not the case where we have special operation and just pass it on to everyone. We are aware that there would be police officers that would be aiding and abetting…trying to assist criminal elements.”

Griffith said this approach has led to successes in the form of “clinical hits” carried out by special, highly-polygraphed units.

He said more than 30 officers have been reassigned from the South Western area for assisting criminals.

The Police Commissioner said any officers who refuse to submit to polygraph testing cannot be fired, but they would be referred to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

Griffith said all measures adopted will ensure that the Police Service has the “right horses for courses” and rogue elements are weeded out.

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