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Can Gary Griffith police the Police?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Despite the naysayers, especially some who are now “coming out of the woodwork” and hope to not be considered a cop-out from current discussions on crime, the majority of Trinbagonians are totally fed-up of runaway crime. We have tried foreigners at various levels of the Police Service and National Security, yet crime continues to accelerate out of control.

The Police Service has been unable to address crime and criminals as they are expected to so do, so expecting one of its own to assume the Commissioner of Police position does not augur well for any of its members. Very many organisations bring in persons into positions that have someone in an acting role until the vacancy can be properly filled, either by the person who is acting or someone from outside the department or organisation. Regardless of how we feel about “one of our own,” this is organisational behaviour and the employer is best positioned to determine the type of leadership and organisational skills required to manage its affairs.

Being in a position of authority does not automatically imply co-operation from those being led who must grant such a privilege, which can only be earned through visibility, active listening, honesty, collaboration, humility, openness and hard work. A proper motivating and performing environment has to first be created for the Police Service to be effective in tackling crime.

The ear-marked Commissioner must seek greater collaboration with the Police Welfare Association, Minister of National Security and the Police Service Commission to review and implement better performance appraisal systems for the policemen, so that the required training, development and performance expectations are addressed. Aligned with this must be the review and implementation of better compensation systems for them, to diminish the temptation to earn additional income via convoluted routes.

One common complaint from the police regards the working environment and the CoP must champion initiatives such as better police stations, proper working vehicles, functioning security cameras, use of technology and greater police visibility. He must himself visit every police station at least once per month and have discussions with all staff there to get and provide feedback. His role in fighting crime is strategic rather than operational. He must be seen walking the streets with his lower-ranked officers so that they can develop a greater pride in their role and be motivated to excel at their duties.

Policemen have been so beaten upon that they may have lost motivation and this is the primary role of the CoP, who must rekindle the fires of pride in them, otherwise no amount of money, technology, jails, courts or threats can effectively address crime if the people issues are not addressed.

The incoming CoP must disengage himself from the trappings of office and meet his people at their level to engender servant leadership, which is very rare in our leaders. Enthusiasm, pride and the feeling of belonging, which need to be continually reinforced, are needed to have an effective police service. Leadership is of paramount importance in tackling crime.

Harjoon Heeralal,


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