Trinidad top cop will not push his men ‘under the bus’
Port Of Spain – Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, Tuesday said he had no intention of pushing any of his men “under the bus” even as the independent Police Complaints Authority (PCA) formally advised him to place on immediate suspension, the police officers involved in the fatal killings of three civilians late last month.
Griffith, speaking at a news conference here, said the PCA had not provided to him “any reason for their recommendation” which he also described as “curious.
“I am not bowing to public pressure. To all citizens of this country I want you all to understand we have a very tired Police Service out there and yet with that some persons want revenge based on the campaign of hate the Police Service.
“It is my job to keep moral lifted and I will stand firm to defend a proud institution that has matured remarkably in the last two years. I could make life very easy for me as the PCA seems to have done by just throwing officers under the bus with a media release and exonerate myself from public pressure . . . and easily say I suspend them.”
But he said an action like that would be counterproductive adding that he was not going to be Pontius, a reference to the biblical description of how Jesus Christ was handed over to be killed.
“I am not going to sit down and just throw someone under the bus and have him virtually taken to the gallows and then say well it wasn’t me. I am not a weak leader, I am indeed made of sterner stuff. I am here to defend those under my command if being targeted and if and when evidence is brought to my attention I will act decisively, but I will not act to quench the thirst of those looking for blue blood,” Griffith said.
“With immediate effect all those [police] involved in firing their weapons during this incident would no longer be on active duty either operational or administrative and I expect that the Police Complaints Authority findings which is what they ought to have done in the first place to forward to me would be sent to me as quickly as possible for me to take decisive action and disciplinary action if required or to ensure that the officers report to full duty based on the findings,” Griffith said.
“This is not in any way to be seen as a sign that the officers are being accused or blamed or disciplined for wrongdoing. Two totally different things,’ he said.
The PCA and the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago have called for the suspension of the police officers implicated in the deaths of Joel Jacobs, Israel Moses Clinton and Noel Diamond, gunned down in Morvant, on June 27.
The police and the PCA are conducting separate investigations into the matter and, in a statement, the PCA said that its deputy director, Michelle Solomon-Baksh, had also briefed the Director of Public Prosecutions, Senior Counsel Roger Gaspard on the recommendation to suspend the police officers.
The killings led to street protests by residents of the area who claimed that men had their hands up in the air in surrender when they were shot.
Griffith told reporters that he had taken note of a statement by warring gangs that they had as a result of the police killings called a truce.
“A truce cannot be cosmetic that you high five one gang member and leader with others and say we will keep our firearms. You cannot have a cosmetic truce. There is a saying that you cannot be half pregnant, so if you are speaking about a truce and you say you want to bring peace, well the best way to bring peace is to remove the items of war you have used to kill many innocent people in this country”.
Griffith said he was prepared to offer the gang members an opportunity “to hand in all of your firearms with immediate effect and show to the country what you have is really truce towards ensuring that there will be no more criminal activity and not a convenient degree of persons trying to form an alliance because they realise that they have been weighed measured and found wanting”.
The PCA said that so far this year 43 people have been killed by police bullets. (CMC)