Tuesday 22 October, 2019

No police leak, Gary says

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has denied the existence of any leak within law enforcement relating to a recent high profile case involving a public figure.

In a statement, the Police Commissioner took note of alleged 'leaks' in law enforcement and case management as it pertains to investigations and sensitive security information possibly being sent to third parties.

His comments come as Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi claimed that Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was aware of the impending arrest of Marlene McDonald – information she could only know if she was informed by police sources. 

He also noted a daily editorial voiced the need for "concern" related to these purported police 'leaks'  related to a recent high profile case involving a public figure.

Griffith said while “unauthorised issuance of information is frowned upon and the relevant disciplinary action on police officers would be taken if proven, it is important to place this discussion into context”.

He added that while the TTPS takes stock of the importance of managing the unauthorised outflow of information, it was "very interesting" that the same arms of the media that have voiced "concerns" of law enforcement leaks, seem not to be concerned if these same leaks are of benefit to their particular media house, thereby 'trumping' others in obtaining an 'exclusive'.

Below is the full statement from the Police Commissioner:

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has noted the views by some, pertaining to alleged 'leaks' in law enforcement and case management as it pertains to investigations and sensitive security information possibly being sent to third parties.

Seemingly, law enforcement has become one field where many have taken to espouse their 'personal opinions' on every matter relative to this area. The latest being the probability of 'leaked information' to third parties.

One such daily editorial voiced the need for "concern" related to these alleged 'leaks' emanating from within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) related to a recent high profile case involving a public figure.

Whilst any unauthorised issuance of information is frowned upon and the relevant disciplinary action on police officers would be taken if proven, it is important to place this discussion into context.

It is indeed foolhardy to believe that a case involving a public figure, could be hidden from the public indefinitely, especially when the case is coming to a close, as during that period, there may be hundreds of persons involved, inclusive of many witnesses being interviewed, hundreds of statements being completed, production orders being drafted, meetings with external agencies of the TTPS, inclusive of civilians, and to expect that all such persons involved in any way to remain completely 'tight-lipped' at all stages is impractical.

It is important to also note that the eventual outcome of charges being laid was not impacted, as the structure set up in the TTPS within the last few months, ensures that even though there could be a chance of minor 'leaks', it is not enough to affect the end result, as no one individual has enough access and control of data or evidence.

No one person can cause an arrest, which is why I previously said it is virtually impossible for someone to say that another would be arrested months before that arrest is made.

As a result, the outcome of investigations would not be affected. This being the case, the realities are that a country as small as ours, with police officers, state witnesses and civilian staff from different departments and units, will create a challenge to maintain absolute confidentiality.

The fact is, absolute confidentiality simply can never fully exist as long as there are various human elements involved in any scenario.

In countries far larger than ours, with the immense capability to ensure far greater secrecy and sensitivity of confidential information especially similar to such matters involving high profile public figures, one would observe hundreds of " leaks", be it from the US Pentagon, National Security Agency [NSA], MI6, CIA, FBI, and Police Departments worldwide, varying from Watergate to Snowden, and thousands of other leaks from WikiLeaks to Cambridge Analytica there will always be individuals who expose sensitive information to the public, especially in an era of technology, where hacking, intercepting and persons being influenced, be it bribery or intimidation by others is a reality.

However, as mentioned, the "concern" only emanates if it affects the eventual outcome.

Whilst we take stock of the importance of managing the unauthorised outflow of information, what is also very interesting is the same arms of the media that have voiced "concerns" of law enforcement leaks, seem not to be concerned if these same leaks are of benefit to their particular media house, thereby 'trumping' others in obtaining an 'exclusive'.

Many times, contacting the very same Police to obtain a 'heads up.'

I take this opportunity to instead commend the men and women of the TTPS for doing what has been asked by the nation for decades-which is to ensure the law is observed, respected and enforced, and that of the several so-called high profile arrests made, not just of public figures, but police officers and many others, inclusive of high profile persons of interest, in the last year, in a variety of criminal charges, and at no time did any " leak" affect the outcome.

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