POLICE COMMISSIONER Gary Griffith, who in the past has referred to criminals as cockroaches and gave life to the phrase “one shot one kill,” says he does not need to temper his language.
On Thursday the Prime Minister was asked if he thought Griffith’s language emboldened police officers to be more forceful.
He was speaking during a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s to discuss the shooting deaths of three men in Morvant on Saturday last week and protests which followed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dr Rowley said he wanted to see more language to “encourage.”
“I will like to see language that indicates that we are not going to give up the territory to those who are not law-abiding. I will prefer to see language that gives comfort to those who know that the police is up to the task.
“However that is expressed, that’s another story. But the language of policy is that the population must know, because we are required to police our environment, that there is need for policing and that the police is up to the task.”
Contacted for a response, Griffith said he agreed with the PM’s comments, adding that his language is aimed at his officers to assure them that, as their leader, they have his support.
“The main aspect of policing is not to be confrontational. That is why the officers are being trained in public relations and restraint and to measure flexibility.”
He said such restraint should not include hesitance when faced with armed attacks, as a split-second delay can cost an officer his life. His words, he said, are to encourage them to use necessary force to defend themselves with the knowledge that when they do, they have his support.
“I invite anyone to come down to the Police Administration Building and look at the names of the police officers who died in the line of duty. I do not want another officer’s name etched on that wall.
“My comments have been instrumental in saving lives.”
Griffith added that his officers are now trained in minimum use of force, which allows for de-escalation to prevent confrontations. While they are being trained to avoid confrontation, he said they must be encouraged that when the confrontation reaches the point of their lives being threatened, effective force must be used.
Griffith defended his use of the word cockroaches saying anyone who does not regard those who kill in cold blood as cockroaches “their parents raised them differently than mine.” He added that those offended by his “aggressive character trait” should thank him for said trait.
“Had it not been for that trait coming out to lead our officers into a virtual war zone, the country would still be under siege and looking similar to what we saw days after July 27,1990. That trait, ensured that our nation was defended.”