Ex-CoP Griffith: I can’t believe PSWA head’s stance

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Political leader of the National Transformation Alliance Gary Griffith –

WHAT about the trauma firearms dealer Brent Thomas went through when he was held, handcuffed, placed on an aircraft and flown from Barbados back to Trinidad?

This is the question being asked by former police commissioner and political leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) Gary Griffith in response to media reports on Police Social Welfare Association (PSWA) president ASP Gideon Dickon saying officers involved in Thomas’ apprehension were left traumatised.

In a release on Tuesday, Griffith said the role of the PSWA is primarily to look after the well-being of police officers, “but to hear Mr Gideon Dickson, head of the association, demand from the public that they should ‘back off,’ because officers accused by the court of abducting a citizen, and forcibly removing him without proper documentation, are traumatised, is unbelievable.”

Griffith said that Dickson should focus on the officers, without at least mentioning the individual who was handcuffed and dragged from his hotel room and then flown back in handcuffs to Trinidad, without extradition papers, “is very unfortunate.”

It begs the question, Griffith said, has Dickson even asked if any counselling was offered to Thomas?

And not only did the court rule that Thomas, a man who was on his way to see his cardiologist, was the victim, the wider public also has good cause not to “back off,” because they are also rightfully traumatised and scared by that court ruling, Griffith claimed.

He reminded Dickson that the TTPS’ Victim and Witness Support Unit is tasked to provide support for victims of crime and it is not primarily for those who may have caused people to be victims of crime.

“So if Dickson genuinely wants to help the officers in question, he should demand that the people who may have authorised, influenced or otherwise induced the officers to commit these heinous acts, be revealed, and if they are deemed to have committed a crime, then also demand that they be brought to justice,” Griffith said.

Griffith said that in order to protect the other 6,000 or so officers whom the PSWA also represents, Dickson should also demand that the officers involved in the Thomas affair, be suspended or at the very least be sent on administrative leave, to prevent the perception and real possibility that, as Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) SB officers, who are responsible for investigating other officers, they cannot influence those conducting investigations into their own conduct.

Griffith said not an admission of guilt, suspension of officers or being sent on administrate leave occurs all the time without the PSWA’s appeals, and it is even more warranted this time around, since the Judge in the case expressed shock that these officers are still on the job, given what they did.

He added that the Thomas incident, which has stained not just the TTPS but the Barbados Police Force, many will argue, warrants the shutting down of the entire PSB unit, just as SORT was shut down, “without a peep from Dickson, I might add.”

The former top cop said Dickson’s statements failed to address the needs of the victim – Brent Thomas – andappeared to be more of a PR exercise designed to complain about public outrage, in the hope that it softens the repercussions for those who may have committed serious crimes.