Monday 16 September, 2019

Top Cop 'buffs' media, refuses to answer questions

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith berated media on Wednesday, accusing news agencies of not seeking out the facts on recent incidents involving Radio Jaagriti and Buju Banton, before storming out of a media briefing.

Speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) headquarters in Port of Spain, Griffith addressed those issues then walked out of the briefing, refusing to answer any additional questions from media. 

Griffith also threatened to ‘Stephen Williams myself’ and stop speaking to the media on national issues.

“Others feel that the Commissioner of Police…loves the media. It is the media who contacts me. I get over 50 calls a day from the media and now I’m paying the price for making myself too accessible…maybe I should ‘Stephen Williams’ myself,” he said, possibly referring to former Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams.

 

Griffith’s diatribe comes after the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) issued a statement following reports that the incident had left some staff traumatised. 

“We have no intention to be involved in a ‘catfight’ with any organisation. The report stated that the TTPS ‘bombarded’ Radio Jaagriti, but then after when we looked at the report you found out that five officers were in plain clothes and two uniformed officers without weapons."

“I really wish that people would do their research further north than Charlotteville to understand policing. It does not mean abuse of force,” he said.

“They said they were abused and hostile. Again, I have never seen Sat Maharaj smile so much in my life,” he said.

He also corrected reports that no warrant was issued.

He said he was not present when the incident took place but if any officers acted abusively the matter would be investigated.

“At no time would we witch-hunt, at no time would we profile, but we would not turn a blind eye. Our job is to be fair and impartial and operate to the best of our ability.”

“If the TTPS wants to clarify a matter to conduct an enquiry, this has become a matter for persons to question the operational policy of the police service?”

He said the incident was ‘nothing more than trying to get information’ on the incident.

We do not operate to what (other groups) do…whereas other organisations may write to state ‘this is wrong’, that has nothing to do with us. We do not operate on MATT, Sat, hat or rat,” he said.

“The police service is not going to be listening to every single person on a platform or sending letters to the media or reports from MATT or anyone else based on accusations…if you feel something is worthy of investigation…I give you the assurance…to ensure that police officers will be accountable, and I will ensure that no officer would abuse his authority. If officers were abusive or aggressive it may well be so but I can only operate on the reports that were given to me,” he said.  

He again reiterated that the search was not done to target any individual.

The search falls under Section 41 of the Summary Courts Act.

Section 13 of the Sedition Act states that if a Magistrate is satisfied based on the oath of a police officer he can grant a search warrant authorising officers to search any premises, if necessary, by force, and seize evidence of the offence.

 

Griffith justifies search on Buju Banton

Griffith also referred to an incident in which police officers visited the hotel room of Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton on April 20, which was coincidentally an unofficial commemorative day for marijuana.

He again defended the action, stating that the matter was done as a safety measure.

“The Commissioner of Police is fully aware of his role and function. I led the operation, that is what I do, I lead by example.”

“I do not see red and yellow, I see black and white and when I say black and white I mean right and wrong,” he said.

He also lashed out at people who commented that his appearance on stage with the entertainer was a PR stunt.

"Social media has provided the avenue for anyone to be an expert in any field without understanding the facts, and the facts show that what we did was in tandem with what was required. The TTPS will operate in that manner to ensure we do our job.”

“Persons seem to know what the Police Commissioner should and should not do…what I am not here to do is to please any individual,” he said after condemning persons on social media who criticised him online.

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