Says he Seeks no Honeymoon Period in Tackling Crime in the Country
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Former National Security Minister, Gary Griffith, on Monday welcomed Parliament’s approval of his nomination to be the next Commissioner of Police in Trinidad and Tobago, saying he had no intention of seeking a honeymoon period to deal with the criminal activities on the oil rich twin island republic.
“I do ask that you endure with me until the appointment is made official, and the handover is complete, as there is an Acting Commissioner of Police in the chair presently leading the Police Service, and it would be inappropriate for me to say much more regarding my aim and methods to be used in the direction of Law Enforcement Operational Policies and re branding the direction of the Service at this time,” Griffith said in a statement.
Parliament Monday gave the green light to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to appoint Griffith as the new police commissioner even though his former colleagues abstained in the vote.
Griffith, who was dismissed as national security minister by then prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar in 2015 amid the controversy over allegations that former attorney general Anand Ramlogan had sought to pervert the course of justice, failed to receive the support of the opposition legislators.
According to the voting in the Parliament, 19 members of the government, who were present voted in support of Griffith, a former captain in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, while the 13 opposition legislators who were present abstained. There were no votes against the nomination.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had defended the decision of his administration to support the former government minister, saying he had also instructed members of the ruling People’s National Movement) (PNM) to vote freely in the exercise.
On three previous occasions, the government had used its majority to vote against three other nominees including the Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, who had placed third on the merit list as approved by the PSC.
Parliament had earlier this year accepted the report of a Select Committee of the Parliament that found the procedure followed by the PSC to be “unsound, unsafe, unsatisfactory and illogical” in seeking a replacement for Canadian Dwayne Gibbs, who resigned as Police Commissioner in 2012. Williams has been acting in the post since then.
There have been more than 300 murders here so far this year and citizens have been calling on the authorities to deal with the situation. But Rowley has contended that even though his administration had been supplying the financial and other support to the police, the lack of a substantive police commissioner was undermining the efforts to deal with the crime situation.
In his statement, Griffith said that while he had been receiving “overwhelming support” he wanted to assure “those law abiding citizens …it is my intention to win over your trust and support in the very near future.
“To those within the Service who may also share concerns, I assure you, I am well aware that I can never do this on my own, and I am certain, despite what is reported in the mainstream media, those who took the oath to protect and serve, will do so with pride. We are all aware that a team is as strong as its weakest link, and part of my role is to ensure all links are bolstered.”
Griffith, a former captain in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, who also served as a national security advisor to Persad Bissessar, said that he regarded the vote “not as a time for me to celebrate but to give thanks to my God for affording me the opportunity to serve my country in another direction, different to my previous position of service, but at this time perhaps, a more critical and crucial role.
“Whilst I do appreciate the fond sentiment, I also appreciate the weight of expectation, and the impact on my family, as such, our focus remains facing forward to the task ahead,” he said, adding “in this enormous task of ensuring the most fundamental right of all law abiding citizens are adhered to, which is their right to safety and security, time is not on my side, and I have no intention to ask for a honeymoon period, as I intend to do all that is required to ensure that your most fundamental right is provided, within the law.
“I am intent on utilizing Leadership, Management, Accountability and Measurement of Performance as standards of practice, whilst implementing methodologies that will advance a strategic, future-oriented, targeted approach to crime control, focusing upon the identification, analysis & management of persisting and developing problems or risks, also known as Intelligence Led Policing.”
Griffith said he also wanted to “recognize the immense contribution, sacrifice, commitment, and dedication to the duty by the present Acting Commissioner of Police Mr Stephen Williams, who has served his country well and I am sure he would continue to do so.
“The post of Commissioner of Police, at this time in our nation’s history, is arguably one of the most difficult and thankless, and many have asked me why I have offered my services for such a post at this time. It is simple-
“I have dedicated my life to serve my country at any level that I can, to make this a better place for citizens of this great country, and I would do what is required, within the law, to achieve just that, as I remain a patriot to my country and am prepared to serve, as I support the position that every post is honourable in which a man can serve his country,” Griffith said. – CMC