Former police commissioner defends hiring practices

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former commissioner of police Gary Griffith. –

Former police commissioner Gary Griffith on Monday came out in defence of his hiring practices which he said was done in the interest of improving the output and efficiency of the police.

Griffith hired civilian contractors over the last three years, 19 of whom had their contracts terminated on Monday.

He was responding on his Facebook page to an article in the Sunday Express, a purported unedited version of which was later posted online, in which several people were named as having been given contracts which were not subject to oversight by the Chief Personnel Officer. The positions were allegedly unadvertised.

The article said spending on contracts, fees, and development programmes increased from $1.6 million in 2016 to $73 million in 2020, with revised estimates for 2021 standing at $88 million.

Griffith said corporate communications manager Francis Joseph was hired “to improve the corporate communications strategy of the police and make it more accountable to the public. It is under his stewardship that the positive perception increased from 13 per cent under the former commissioner of police, to 39 per cent today. Interestingly, Mr Joseph receives half the salary of his predecessor under the former commissioner.”

Griffith said four consultants – Dwight Andrews, Paul Nahous, Lt Col Richardo Garcia, and Clint Eligon “were paid from a vote that was approved prior to my arrival. This allocation was for the services of one individual who, in my mind, had no qualifications to do the assignment outlined.

“Because Mr Andrews’ fee was less than 50 per cent of the person scheduled to be hired by my predecessor, I was able to hire three additional consultants in varying disciplines while staying within the budget initially proposed for one person.

“The additional consultants hired were Paul Nahous, a doctoral candidate and highly trained firearms expert, and Richardo Garcia being specifically brought in to design standards for gun ranges and matters associated with same, and Clint Eligon for matters concerning intelligence.”

Griffith said Andrews was responsible for the integration of technology and processes, designing the new organisational chart and restructuring objectives, the development and implementation of the TTPS App and online reporting, “design and development of the Centralised Operations Centre, the Commissioner’s Command Centre, the TTPS Intelligence fusion centre, the cameras and laptops placed on, and in, emergency response vehicles, and the X-ray vehicles that are now part of the TTPS fleet. The entire integration of technology, and processes, was under his remit.”

Griffith said Sheldon Edghill did more work for the same salary as his predecessor, as in addition to preparing the commissioner’s half-yearly report, he was responsible for all civilian staff in the service, the implementation of the Coastal and Riverine Patrol Unit, the upgrading of the mounted and canine units, the implementation of tasers, and the police’s pepper spray policy.

Griffith said academic and analyst Salisha Gomes-Andrews has extensive training in law enforcement, including training by the US Government. He said Gomes-Andrews joined the police as planning, research and projects manager at a salary 25 per cent less than her predecessor.

“Gomes-Andrews has overseen the delivery of the Shirvan Road, Roxborough, Carenage, and St Clair facilities, the preparation of the proposal which was sent to Cabinet for the Police Headquarters, the refurbishing and development of the sporting facilities at the St James Barracks and the expansion of the TTPS health network.”

Griffith said Facebook blogger Timothy Teemal was hired to “improve the TTPS social media presence, as well as streamline all social media protocols for the TTPS. Again Mr Teemal’s salary is significantly below market.”

Griffith said the hiring of radio personality Adrian Don Mora saved the police a minimum of $90,000 per production.

“I can go on and defend every single position identified in the rogue news report, however I am not prepared to defend my management decisions in the environment of bacchanal…I surrounded myself with persons who are competent and who I trusted. I make no apologies for this.”

Efforts to reach DCP McDonald Jacob via phone and WhatsApp message were unsuccessful.