MATT: No war with Police Service
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith speaks on CNC3's the Morning Brew.
The job of a journalist is to report all sides of a story, not just selected viewpoints.
That’s the stance taken by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) after Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith during a live, televised interview on Monday morning accused the media house on whose station he appeared of presenting the viewpoints of “individuals of questionable repute” following police operations in the East Port of Spain area and not highlighting the work of law enforcement officers.
He further stated that the media seemed more concerned with the rights of criminals than it was with the rights of law-abiding citizens.
This was the second such incident in under a week in which Griffith took issue with media for its reporting following police operations, singling out the same media house and an investigative reporter with the Express newspaper.
MATT noted that the Police Commissioner has repeatedly used his right to freedom of speech to sarcastically refer to media houses and journalists he does not agree with, but sought to remind him that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy.
The Association added that while it is the Commissioner’s right to question any report in the print and broadcast media, he should be more temperate in his choice of words so as not to create the impression he is not in support of a free press.
It also took the opportunity to remind him that he is not at war with the media nor is the media at war with him or the police service.
MATT urged the media fraternity to be fair and balanced in all reporting, adding that it will not muzzle the views of persons who may disagree with the way a special operation was exercised, and it will also report if the Commissioner disagrees with the views expressed.
In a statement from the Police Commissioner this afternoon, Griffith failed to address his pointed statements directly.
Instead, he further cemented his earlier stated view that media was publishing stories “for the purpose of sensationalism” rather than highlighting the voices of those impacted by gang violence.
“As much as I appreciate that every sector has their jobs to do, at some point we must understand that giving prominence to persons of interest, only adds to the perception and ‘glorification’ of the ‘gang-mentality’. At some point the global public interest must be placed as paramount, rather than comments and stories for the purpose of sensationalism,” Griffith stated.
Below is the full statement issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service:
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has responded to statements referring to allegations made against the Police by one of the men held in the recent ‘Red Alert’ crackdown.
The CoP says he has not seen a police report on allegations made by the claimant, except for what has been published in the media.
Commissioner Griffith reminds that there are mechanisms to seek redress should any member of the public feel aggrieved by the actions of members of the Police Service.
In so doing, Commissioner Griffith also advises that whilst it is the enshrined right for all citizens to seek redress, it is also the enshrined right for all citizens to enjoy their fundamental rights of safety and security.
“Since my inception as CoP, I have never shirked my responsibility to ensure any errant officer brought to my attention is investigated with the appropriate action taken, likewise, it is the duty of the men and women of the TTPS to act in the appropriate manner to stymie the onslaught of gang-related violence. Anyone who may feel aggrieved by this has the right to seek redress through the appropriate channels.
However, I am certain the population will also be interested in the stories of those who may have been directly impacted by numerous lives lost to senseless gang-related violence – or on the other side, those who actually felt a degree of safety, particularly in these ‘hot spot’ areas, for the days whilst a few persons of interest were pulled in for questioning; let’s hear their stories as well.”
The Commissioner also states, “As much as I appreciate that every sector has their jobs to do, at some point we must understand that giving prominence to persons of interest, only adds to the perception and ‘glorification’ of the ‘gang-mentality’. At some point, the global public interest must be placed as paramount, rather than comments and stories for the purpose of sensationalism.”
Commissioner Griffith advises that whilst he continues to be intent on treating with all reported matters of alleged abuse, he implores all stakeholders to also appreciate the lives, and accounts of those directly impacted by the spate of crime, and the men and women of the TTPS who present themselves each day to treat with same.