Tough-talking Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has no sympathy for anyone defending criminal activity.
Griffith took a stern line after Thursday night's shoot-out in Trou Macaque, Laventille, left five men, including two teenagers, dead. One police officer was grazed by a bullet and had to receive treatment for burns on his upper arm.
"People need to stop being sympathetic with the criminals," Griffith said in an interview with Guardian Media yesterday.
"My job is to hunt down and arrest criminals."
On Thursday just after 9 pm, police reports indicated, there was a shoot-out with five men and the men were killed.
However, a media report said that eyewitnesses had conflicting accounts of what occurred. One woman, a grandmother of one of the boys, said his hands were up when he was killed.
"The public should ask if these so-called witnesses were in the room and saw the firefight to know what happened...or that the men had their hands in the air. The answer is no.
"How many times do we hear after a suspect is held or shot that he was a 'good boy' or they knew he didn't do anything?" he asked.
Griffith said he found it interesting that some people are saying the men were shot by police in an extrajudicial killing when they were playing cards.
"Yet, a bullet ripped through the jacket of a police officer, missing his chest by inches," he said.
"That jack of spades have a sharp edge."
Griffith said if the men were indeed playing cards, why was one police officer treated for burns after being grazed by a bullet.
"So it was an imaginary man in the room that did this?" he asked.
He said that there were very few people who were sympathising with the criminal element and condemning the police for their actions.
"I ask how would they have felt if the bullet went one inch to the left and killed the officer?"
Griffith was criticised on social media by former justice minister Christlyn Moore and former United National Congress (UNC) senator attorney Wayne Sturge.
Sturge openly critcised Griffith's strong defence of the police after the shoot-out.
"Because of high criminality most citizens are unconcerned when the police in this country engage in extrajudicial killings, that is until they are directly affected," Sturge said.
"Most people are prepared to go with the version given by the police because the victims are 'good boys'. The reality though is that while many of the extrajudicial killings can be justified, there exists a significant number of such killings that cannot be justified.
"My point is this, the municipal courts exist for a reason, regardless of why we think the way we think about people we describe as 'good boys'. A civilised country which has respect for the rule of law and the sacrosanct nature of human life will demand better," Sturge said.
Sturge said a Police Commissioner who described young black men from the ghetto as "cockroaches" should be a cause for grave concern.
Sturge recalled the fate of former police commissioner Randolph Burroughs, who was also popular for his strong stance against crime.
"Randolph Burroughs' wanna-be police officers must know that in a country where there are still decent folk, there will be a day of reckoning, as had happened with the events which occurred in Moruga. Randolph Burroughs never recovered from his criminal charges, and lucky for him the charges weren’t murder, a word to the wise is sufficient," Sturge said.
"The penalty for most of the crimes these shooting victims are suspected of, even where they are found guilty, is not death, and an extrajudicial killing that cannot be justified is not merely a sentence of death for one of Gary's cockroaches, it is state-sponsored murder done with the acquiescence of the taxpayers," Sturge said.
Moore also took to social media to question the killings by the police. She posted the comments from Griffith that the police will "outgun" the criminals and described the rhetoric as "dangerous".
"Do I need to say that this rhetoric is dangerous, reckless, unscientific and will get innocent people killed? Innocent police officers and civilians? Where will you be when the outgun war starts?" she asked.
But Griffith dismissed both of them.
"Moore and Sturge have their jobs to do and I have mine," he said.
"Many are aware of the job of Wayne Sturge. If he is against my actions, I am so shocked," Griffith said sarcastically.
"It seems that too many people trying to become judge and jury. A police officer was injured and nobody is talking about how the officers could have lost their lives in the line of duty,' he said.
'Armoured vehicles for cops'
Griffith is also seeking to resurrect a part of his crime plan hatched during his tenure as minister of National Security.
"Armoured vehicles will help with the fight against crime," he said.
Griffith said the plan to buy the vehicles was shelved when he demitted office.
He said that the armoured vans were expected to help protect officers while doing their jobs. He said people who criticised the move were "being immature".
"Every single country has it. Trinidad had it about 30 years ago. Do they want the police to be vulnerable?" Griffith asked.