National security in Trinidad and Tobago

Former Police Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago Gary Griffith
Former Police Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago Gary Griffith (Photo credit: Instagram (@captaingarygriffithofficial))

Former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is claiming there is blatant political interference in the running of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). According to the former commissioner, there is deliberate political interference in the running of the Police Service and every single right-thinking citizen should be concerned that the hierarchy of the TTPS appears to have been pressured to take directives from illegitimate bodies.

During his tenure, the (TTPS) saw many developments such as the TTPS App, and online reporting, the development of the commissioner’s command centre, the implementation of dashboard cameras, and X-ray vehicles which allow the TTPS to see weapons and drugs in vehicles traversing the nation’s roadways. There was also public confidence in his effort to curb crime and weed out criminal elements. Now citizens are very concerned with the abrupt firing of the commissioner and more than 30 professional civilian employees of his office.  It is inconceivable to think that the TTPS hierarchy would terminate every single contract of individuals appointed by the ex-commissioner, without a directive, especially given the fact that they were at the heart of the remarkable numbers, and turnaround in public sentiment, that the TTPS enjoyed under his watch. We often hear the term dismantling of the national security apparatus being bandied about, and what is occurring before our eyes, is just that. While assets such as an OPV (offshore patrol vessel) are important, hypocritically, some appear to be bent on devaluing the human resource capital, which is even more pivotal to the success of all of the TTPS’s functions.

The concern is who will fill those positions that were previously filled by trained professionals? Does this mean that the TTPS will either hire new contractors, or they will put these jobs in the hands of officers who are not trained or qualified to undertake the specialized tasks? How will they justify the replacement of the terminated employees, especially when those jobs were in the hands of civilians for over a decade? The TTPS recruitment mechanism does not cater to these specific fields of endeavour, which is why most of the persons hired were recruited from the private sector.

The ex-commissioner expressed sympathy for the hierarchy of the TTPS citing his own pressures from government officials to show nepotism and favoritism by appointing a constable to head the Cyber Crimes Unit which is responsible for the interception of electronic data, including that from phones and electronic devices. He rejected the attempts to exert pressure, and perhaps this is the price he paid.

Whilst these events negatively impact the good and decent individuals who answered the call to serve, including civilians, in the end, such actions could never augur well for the morale and operational capabilities of the TTPS, which leaves us all deeply concerned about how this will impact the safety and security of all our nation’s citizens. For this reason, the ex-commissioner has reapplied for the position of police commissioner of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. His objective remains to weed out rogue cops, especially those gangs that want a return of their overtime racket, and their extra duty which is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Many citizens believe Griffith can rid the country of these rogue elements within and outside of the service.

Subrina Hall-Azih is a Trinidadian Educator residing in New York.

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