It’s been a few days of who’s to blame over what powers the police have to charge persons breaching the COVID-19 regulations at private gatherings in the wake of a pool party at Bayside Towers last week.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is not one who lets anything pass. He jumped to his officers’ defence on Sunday, hours after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the police, in no uncertain terms, that the full brunt of the law must be applied across the board, regardless of race, colour, creed, class, or social standing, to persons in breach.
Mr Griffith went on the defensive, going so far as to accuse the Prime Minister of pushing a race narrative. Sad that dealing with measures to curb the virus’ spread should come to this.
The reality is that there is a missing link. Is it that contrary to what the PM’s understanding is, the police cannot go into a private space to charge someone breaching the regulations and putting others at risk? If the regulations don’t allow for this, then surely there is a need for new legislation to be taken to parliament to address the concerns of law enforcement officers.
However, the public squabbling between these two top officeholders only adds to the confusion for the very public whose interests they are there to serve.
Yesterday, in an effort one hopes was to clarify the issue, the Office of Prime Minister announced Commissioner Griffith and his seniors had been summoned to a meeting where all the issues were apparently thrashed out in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago.
Quite frankly, Commissioner Griffith needs to stop the public “toing and froing” and seeing everyone as his enemy.
The fact is the country believes he can bring crime down. But while it may be true the Commissioner has received good ratings, his behaviour in office at times leaves much to be desired.
Mr Griffith needs to take it down and do what he has been hired to do, which is to develop a plan for the country’s security in conjunction with the other National Security heads and to keep all of us safe during the current pandemic.
It is therefore gratifying to hear that yesterday’s meeting was “very cordial” and that the emphasis will now be on all parties moving forward to ensure the Public Health Ordinance regulations are adhered to by the public. That is what we need more now than public bickering. We need to know that if some citizens do the wrong thing they will be called to account for it, whether it is through warnings, fines or other means via other laws on the books. Public and private spaces at a time like this must be treated with equal vigour because those who gather at private events eventually make their way into the public domain and put everyone at risk. This is too serious a time for anyone to be allowed to get away with stupidity. The country cannot risk it.