Gary blasts back at Rowley over guns

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Gary Griffith. File photo/Sureash Cholai

The Prime Minister says giving former commissioner of police Gary Griffith a chance when the Police Service Commission said he was the best person for the job was “the biggest mistake” he ever made.

Making reference to allegations of a bribery ring for firearm users’ licences (FULs), Dr Rowley said, “I have watched, I have listened, I have heard. We’ve taken steps, one by one, to the extent where we have just had an audit of the firearms department of the police service. It makes very very troublesome reading.”

A Firearms User’s Licence (FUL) audit report was prepared by retired senior police officers Insp Lennard Charles, ACP Wellington Virgil and ACP Raymond Craig.

Rowley made the statement on Tuesday night at a People’s National Movement public meeting at the Belmont Community Centre, Belmont.

In a video response, Griffith countered that the biggest mistake in the 60 years of T;sT independence was selecting Rowley as prime minister, and that the country would soon rectify that mistake.

He said in 2018 he got the highest number of points when he applied for the position, and that the Police Service Commission (PSC) had him in fourth place, but Rowley “went out of your way” to appoint him. He questioned whether Rowley did so hoping Griffith would target the PNM’s political opponents.

He said under his tenure as CoP from August 18, 2018-August 17, 2021, there was the highest reduction in violent crime in the history of TT, the homicide rate was 320 per annum compared to over 600 as it was now, he increased public confidence in the policefrom 14 to 55 per cent, and 89 per cent of the population was fine with him returning to the position.

“No, Keith Rowley. Your mistake is that you wanted and you hoped that Gary Griffith would be a puppet and take directions from a government. I had no intention to do so.

“So you have disregarded the crime statistics, you have disregarded the public trust and confidence in the police, you have disregarded what the country wants and who the country wanted as a commissioner of police.”

Griffith said the justification of the firearms issue was “comical,” as he claimed that, during his tenure as CoP, a senior government minister harassed him to provide explosives for a friend in Tobago without OSHA approval, for a special gun to kill pigs, and for FULs to be fast-tracked for his friends.

“On three occasions, you (Rowley) have specifically hand-picked persons, paid them big money and then tried to get them to write reports that you may like. The country did not buy it, Keith Rowley. You played your hand and lost.”

He added that no one had been arrested over legal firearms being issued to the public, and that 100 per cent of the murders in the past three years were committed with illegal guns.

“I, Gary Griffith ensured, yes, that legal firearms must be provided to law-abiding citizens to protect them from criminal elements. You, Keith Rowley, and your government have spent more time targeting law-abiding citizens getting legal firearms than criminal elements who have illegal firearms.”