Friday 30 October, 2020

Griffith defends officers in doubles drama: It's a difficult situation

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith defended the actions of police officers saying there is no agenda regarding doubles vendors, after an order by officers to halt the sale of pre-packaged doubles at a service station was later reversed. 

After news of the pre-packaged 'Grab N Go' doubles spread on social media, officers visited the station and halted any further sales, saying it was in breach of the COVID-19 regulations as it was restaurant-type food. 

However, the matter was later rectified and Griffith apologised to the service station saying this was done in error.

The development comes after a doubles vendor's operation was previously shut down as the business did not fall under the list of essential services as per the current COVID-19 regulations. 

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) headquarters in Port of Spain, Griffith said under the COVID-19 regulations, officers are required to make difficult decisions in a fluid situation where ‘the goal post continues to shift’.

“Going back to doubles vending where doubles vendors were shut down as with other food places, but a gas station decides to sell doubles and yes, the officers were incorrect but they are human, they make mistakes."

“Based on these types of scenarios where the goal post continues to shift, where the police officer might think ‘wait a minute, doubles are not sold by legitimate doubles vendors, and now a gas station is selling doubles that was not there before’, they made a judgement call and at times that is what they need to do.”

Griffith said he also has to deal with this shifting of the goal post several times during the day and with regard to the doubles issue, he addressed it immediately.

“As soon as it was brought to my attention I was able to immediately rectify it. Had my officers not done this all hell could have broken loose in this country. Officers stood firm, making sure they did what was required whilst not abusing their authority.”

“You will have one or two officers who made a mistake, but had we not done that it would have been a situation where Trinidad and Tobago would have been just as how it was pre-COVID19, and the results now show based on the hard work and dedication of my officers doing what is required.”

He referred to a clothing store owner who refused to shut down, saying his items were on sale therefore he had a discount store, which was listed as essential.

He also mentioned someone else who had several loaves of bread and called themselves a bakery as well as a retail gift store owner who began selling mops, buckets and lightbulbs and called themselves a hardware store. 

“With this situation it’s very difficult…especially with the ‘Trickidadian mentality’. Very soon we might very well find a hardware selling fried wings, all he has to do is get a food badge. That is how difficult this is.”

“It is very difficult for those who have to actually implement the operations, enforce laws…it is very easy for others to sit in an office and type and discredit the TTPS.”

He also slammed politicians who focused on doubles instead of more important matters.

“It really reached a stage in our country where so many things are going on in the world…but yet politicians…the most important thing to do…was a matter of public importance as to why did two police officers tell a gas station man not to sell doubles.”

He said that his officers, despite these challenges, continue to go above and beyond in trying to enforce the COVID-19 regulations and maintain a level of safety for the public.  

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: