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Griffith: I won’t be an armchair minister

Sunday, January 5, 2014
Orville London, Chief Secretary, THA, and National Security Minister, Gary Griffith met at Mt Irvine Bay Hotel and Golf Club to discuss security strategies for Tobago. Photo courtesy INFO DEPT/THA

National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday hit back at critics of his crime fighting  plans and policies, declaring that he has only just begun. Griffith issued a statement yesterday in response to comments from former chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Nizam Mohammed and attorney-at-law Dana Seetahal. He described them as arm chair critics who have no experience or knowledge in security, but were quick to condemn while society continues to see a decay of the nation’s security.


On Friday. Mohammed said Griffith had no power to fire or hire any police officers, whether “rogue” or not.  Seetahal said under the T&T Constitution a commissioner of police has singularly more power than any other head of department or division and, while he may be chastised or corrected by the PSC or the courts, the Minister of National Security cannot take over any of his functions.


Both were reponding to a report on Thursday in which the minister was quoted as saying he intended to transform national security structure and fire rogue police officers. 



Griffith said yesterday: “I have every intention to continue to do what needs to be done, and would advise those who choose to persist to lay in wait to criticise—that I have only just begun. So to those who see everything half empty, and intend to spend their time in telling me what powers I do not have, I hereby quote my Commander in Chief (President Anthony Carmona) by saying that ‘the powers that you feel that I do not have, I actually do’.”


Griffith said it was unfortunate that Seetahal thought his primary function was to simply  provide assets and funds to law enforcement agencies.  “I have no intention to be an armchair minister, but one who would do what is required to ensure that the proper policies are implemented to ensure better management of our law enforcement agencies,” he said. 


The minister reiterated that if police officers underperform, “that they can and should be dismissed”. He accused Seetahal of defending the few rogue elements based on industrial relations. “But such irresponsible statements and actions could probably be said by such persons who sit in their well protected ivory towers, sometimes easily forgetting about the hundreds of thousands who need State protection and a competent, accountable police service, because they cannot afford to protect themselves,” he said


The minister said such senseless comments have caused our law enforcement agencies to be stagnant, with people fighting to defend what is wrong, rather than saying what should be done to make it right. He said: “I have no intention to stroke egos, as this has been an element that has plagued our society, with certain persons fighting for turf and always trying to find an excuse to say why things cannot be done and changes cannot be made, instead of finding remedies and recommendations to make it happen.”


Griffith said Mohammed and Seetahal had missed the simple facts. He said he would continue to stand firm on his position that rogue elements in the police service should be fired. “To interpret this statement as saying that I, Gary Griffith, would be the one to fire them, means that perhaps some persons are so blinded by their personal  feelings about the messenger, that they have completely misconstrued the message,” he said.


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