Incoming T&T Top Cop talks tough

Gary Griffith

(Trinidad Guardian) Declaring that “criminals are worse than cockroaches,” incoming Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says the criminal element will be “crushed.”

And while the criminal element may have no fear of God, Griffith on Tuesday promised: “I will ensure that they have the fear of Gary.”

“The happy hour is over,” Griffith added, as said his job “is to go after the low life elements who continue to deprive law-abiding citizens of their right of safety and security.”

Griffith has been criticised for his reference to the criminal element as “cockroaches,” but yesterday he said he stood by his statement.

“I refer to them as cockroaches, yes that is what they are, what they are doing is affecting the safety and security of every citizen of this country, they are nothing else and they should be crushed,” he said.

Despite this apparent stance, he committed to doing what is required “within the law to ensure the safety and security of citizens is adhered to.”

Speaking on the CNC3 Morning Brew yesterday, Griffith said the criminal element he referred to as cockroaches are those who “kill people, rape people, who terrorise people and you are saying they should not be referred to as cockroaches? Well the day one of your loved ones is killed by a coldblooded murderer and you can’t see them as anything else, that is your perception.”

Asked whether he was adopting a hard-line approach to the criminal element, Griffith made it clear that he was.

“That is what law enforcement about,” he said, adding those who decide to break the law must know the T&T Police Service “will show what the police can do.”

As he made the media rounds yesterday, Griffith, in another interview, said the “two to three thousand hardened criminals who have sophisticated weapons have reached the point of no return and the only way to deal with them is by accepting the fact that we have to do it to them before they do it to us and within the law.”

He said he had no intention of negotiating with criminal elements.

“I have no intention to try to influence them verbally or to explain to them that what they are doing is against the law. I intend to fight fire with fire within the law.”

He said while some may say it’s a “bullying tactic,” it was the only way to deal with individuals who feel they are in “full control of their own blocks and areas and no one can tell them what they can do. I intend to do differently.”

In doing that, he said the police will have a “minimum force policy which is from verbal persuasion to the communication back up to the pepper spray, the tasers, to rubber bullets to the firearms,” as he signalled that the police will utilise whatever it has to do deal with dealing with the problem to ensure success.

He said what the country had seen in the last several months was not just gang-related activity. 

“The country has become a very violent one where persons feel they can commit criminal activity without any fear of being arrested.”

Griffith said he intended to utilise the 8000-plus “loyal and dedicated men and women” of the police service to “do what is Mrequired to ensure safety and security.”

Under his watch, he promised a faster response to calls to the E999, “high visibility, rapid response, improvement in technology, certain things can and will be done.”

Declaring that the Police Service is a very powerful unit, Griffith said there are many dedicated men and  women who are willing to serve, and he was confident that working  together and with the strategies to be implemented there will be a reduction in crime and homicides. Griffith refused to give any timeline on when the population will see a difference in the daily rising homicide rate, but he said his  ntention is to double the effort she made when he was national security minister, “because now I will have the operational ability to implement many things at a faster rate than I was able to as minister.”

“The Commissioner can be the catalyst towards crime turning around or even increase if he does not use his resources in the right manner,” he said.

He would not be drawn into debate on whether acting Commissioner Stephen Williams had failed in that regard, saying as far as hwas concerned Williams was “a true patriot.

“There is nothing I can say other than give him full credit for the sacrifice he made,” Griffith said.

Griffith said his 78-point plan of action will also see the re-establishment of some units which were disbanded, the disbanding or watering down of other units, asset acquisition, training and the use of technology. He also signalled his intention to revitalise the National Operations Centre (NOC).

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