Trinidad Top Cop: 300 suspended cops still being paid $50m annually

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith at yesterday’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee meeting. At left is ACP Erla Christoper.

(Trinidad Guardian) Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith is look­ing to clamp down on the long list of of­fi­cers serv­ing in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sions due to crim­i­nal charges not­ing the state is pay­ing some $50 mil­lion an­nu­al­ly on these of­fi­cers.

He re­vealed his plan dur­ing a Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee deal­ing with the ex­pen­di­ture and in­ter­nal con­trols of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) for the fi­nan­cial year 2018-19 at the Par­lia­ment build­ing yes­ter­day.

“We must nev­er see the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice as be­ing an av­enue where you can ben­e­fit from be­ing in­dis­ci­plined,” said Grif­fith, who con­firmed that over 300 of­fi­cers were on sus­pen­sion with pay de­spite fac­ing crim­i­nal charges.

He said some of the of­fi­cers had been sus­pend­ed with pay for al­most a decade but due to le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions these of­fi­cers can­not sim­ply be dis­missed from the ser­vice.

“We have in­tel­li­gence (which) can give the po­lice ser­vice the con­cern that a po­lice of­fi­cer should not be in the po­lice ser­vice be­cause he is a breach to na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty. You can sus­pend him but you can­not fire him be­cause that same po­lice of­fi­cer now will take you to court and show me the ev­i­dence that (you have used) to fire me,” Grif­fith said.

He said when tak­ing in­to ac­count salary pay­ments and le­gal fees sur­round­ing these cas­es, over $500 mil­lion had been paid in re­la­tion to the sus­pend­ed of­fi­cers over a 10-year pe­ri­od.

He point­ed out that while the state was bear­ing these costs, many of these of­fi­cers have since used their in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion pe­ri­od to find oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties while still on the TTPS pay­roll.

“Some of them we have al­ready con­firmed, some of these of­fi­cers have mi­grat­ed. Sev­er­al of them are work­ing else­where and get­ting dou­ble salary.

“So my in­ten­tion is for those who have been sus­pend­ed in­def­i­nite­ly, we need to ver­i­fy whether we have enough in­for­ma­tion to war­rant a tri­bunal,” Grif­fith said, not­ing he was at­tempt­ing to ad­just the le­gal sys­tem with­in the TTPS to al­low for the dis­missal of these of­fi­cers through a tri­bunal in a time­ly ba­sis.

“Each and every­one we in­tend to deal with and fast track, to en­sure that po­lice of­fi­cers would ei­ther be brought back to du­ty, the sus­pen­sion would end or they are sus­pend­ed with a spe­cif­ic time­line as to how long the sus­pen­sion would be or they would be fired,” said Grif­fith.

“There are sev­er­al in­stances as well where there is enough in­for­ma­tion based on the tri­bunal that can war­rant that po­lice of­fi­cer be­ing fired.

“This will en­sure po­lice of­fi­cers are aware that there are con­se­quences. There will be con­se­quences for your ac­tions and you can­not try to beat the sys­tem and find loop­holes in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

He said grant­i­ng of­fi­cers con­tracts was an op­tion which could be used to root out tru­ant of­fi­cers.

Grif­fith said this ad­just­ment would bring some bal­ance to man­pow­er con­cerns with­in the po­lice while al­so re­duc­ing costs in­curred by the po­lice ser­vice an­nu­al­ly.

“This is in fair­ness to the cit­i­zens, to the po­lice of­fi­cer and to the po­lice ser­vice.

“It is in­ap­pro­pri­ate that you have a sys­tem of 300 po­lice of­fi­cers in just 7,000 that are on sus­pen­sion in­def­i­nite­ly,” said Grif­fith, who re­vealed that the TTPS was in debt of $47 mil­lion as it was still pay­ing bills from the fis­cal year 2017 -2018.

“We have re­cur­ring ex­pen­di­ture.

“As at this time, we have not re­ceived any­thing for fis­cal year 2018/2019, apart from the salaries.”

Around the Web