Last update: 18-Apr-2014 4:22 am
Friday, April 18, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Griffith on new anti-crime measure: No plan to sideline PCA
National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday defended the Virtual Police Officer initiative, insisting the intention was not to sideline the Police Complaints Authority. Griffith was responding to statements made by the authority, which expressed concern about the anti-crime measure. In a press release issued on Monday, the authority described itself as “the only duly-constituted body to deal with complaints by citizens about corrupt activities by the police.”
It added that the authority is “an independent body established by law to, among other things, investigate, monitor and audit complaints of allegations of criminal offences involving police officers, police corruption and serious police misconduct.” Saying it appeared Griffith was “sidestepping” the authority, it added that the National Security Minister seemed to be transferring to himself a responsibility for which the PCA was specifically established by the Parliament.
Contacted yesterday, Griffith maintained that the intention behind the initiative was simply to gather information and pass it on to the relevant agencies, which could also include the authority. He said the objective was not to create disharmony with anyone or any entity. “The fact is we need to get the information and that has been a challenge,” Griffith said. “We need to look at the bigger picture. We are not only seeking information on rogue police officers, but all categories of crime, and this information is badly lacking.”
He maintained his role as National Security Minister was to implement policies to assist all law enforcement agencies. The issue of public confidence still remained a challenge and as a conduit to ensure information was given without any fear, Griffith said citizens could go to a secure Web site and report a crime which might be about to be committed or has been committed.
“We are putting mechanisms to gather as much as we can on all crime, be it rogue elements in the Police Service or otherwise, and give citizens responsibility to become virtual officers in cyberspace,” Griffith added. He said there were also other avenues, like Crime Stoppers, through which members of the public could relay information to the police.
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