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Rogue Cops to be Fired
T&T will witness “massive and radical changes” as National Security Minister Gary Griffith implements several new policies to reduce crime, increase public confidence in the Police Service, modernise data collection systems and boot out rogue police officers. Griffith also hinted at recommending that some of the country’s “archaic laws” be changed.
“This year is going to be a very important year...I intend to transform the whole national security structure, reduce the fear of crime and fire all those rogue police officers,” he said in a telephone interview from New York.
Griffith travelled to New York for a meeting to discuss strategies to deal with T&T’s crime and national security issues with John Huvane, the chief executive officer of the Giuliani Security & Safety, which is owned by former New York mayor Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani. He said the meeting, which lasted “a few hours well,” took place on Old Year’s Day and he was due home yesterday.
Griffith said plans discussed also included partnering with the New York Police Department for training programmes for T&T’s officers, upgrading the country’s Crime Scene Unit, developing a state-of-the art DNA system and a more efficient computerised system throughout the Police Service. Another key area discussed, he said, was accountability and performance in the Police Service.
Saying he had been “bombarded” by calls from concerned citizens about the conduct of some police officers, Griffith said this ranged from the abrasive manner in which they spoke to members of the public to a lackadaisical attitude when taking a report. “There have been reports where officers have refused to give their identification numbers, of officers abusing people in roadblocks...this must be stopped and I intend to take very firm action on this,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody should get upset with what I am saying...I am not here to stroke anybody’s ego.” In giving a recent example of untoward police behaviour, the National Security Minister said he was told of an incident where a woman was chopped by her husband and went to a police station to make a report. But days passed and nothing was done by the police.
“The attacker eventually went to the station to turn himself in...The officer at the front told the man he was not the one who took the initial report, so he (the attacker) had to come back to the station,” Griffith said. “That officer should have been dismissed one time or suspended for months.” He insisted, however, that the majority of officers were “outstanding and went above and beyond the call of duty.”
“But there are some rogue elements who continue to give the profession a bad name and they must be dealt with,” he warned. At the end of 2013, there were 407 murders, compared to 380 last year. Acknowledging there has been an increase in this category of crime, Griffith said part of the problem was “turning a blind eye and awarding gang leaders contracts.” He said under his watch this would be eliminated. But he admitted there could be expected repercussions.
“If and when all these contracts are taken away, what we would have is the pothounds fighting for the scraps,” he said. “There is just a small majority of criminals of this country’s populations who are terrorising citizens and there are about 5,000 to 10,000 criminals.” Saying he had no intention to “play politics” with fighting crime, Griffith added: “I am doing what is right. What I am doing is laying a foundation so that whoever comes after me would have a very sturdy base.”
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