Griffith on Nat Sec Council’s TTPS review:’Unhealthy overreach by government’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National Transformation Alliance political leader Gary Griffith –

National Transformation Alliance political leader and former commissioner of police Gary Griffith says he is not surprised by the instruction by the Prime Minister, as head of the National Security Council, to conduct a review of the regulations governing the police service.

But he said he was pleased president of the TT Police Service Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA) Gideon Dickson spoke out about the matter.

In response to the police-involved shooting at Courts Megastore in San Juan, in which two people were killed on December 17, the National Security Council (NSC), chaired by PM Rowley, held an extraordinary meeting the next day.

The meeting was attended by Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher, Chief of Defence Staff Air Vice-Marshall Darryl Daniel and the director of the Security Services.

According to a statement issued by the National Security Ministry on December 19, during this meeting, a decision was made to “initiate the conduct of an immediate review of the relevant laws, regulations, and practices surrounding certain aspects of the operations of the TT Police Service (TTPS).”

Dickson said he was surprised by the statement and did not know which “certain aspects” would be reviewed. He said since the incident was being investigated, the instructions seemed premature and that such actions were the roles of the CoP and Police Service Commission (PSC).

Griffith described the NSC’s intentions as a “democratically unhealthy overreach of this government” and said there were other examples of overreaching about which the TTPSSWA said nothing.

He again accused Rowley of interfering with the CoP merit list compiled by the PSC when Rowley delivered a document to the President’s House, and Griffith was suspended as CoP in 2021.

Griffith also claimed “Rowley and company” hired civilians for large sums of money and made them investigators, which gave them access to sensitive, private, and confidential information “in a witch hunt against legal firearms.”

Lastly, he said, “Politicians sanctioned the abduction of a TT national and then scapegoated police officers in the Brent Thomas matter.”

Thomas was a local firearms dealer who was arrested and released, re-arrested in Barbados, forcibly returned to Trinidad on a TT Defence Force plane, and charged with possession of weapons, including grenades and rifles.

Griffith also believed the government intended to fully control the police service by “manipulating weak TTPS leadership” so people regarded as political enemies could be arrested.

“This was the basis for the tens of millions allocated to the TTPS to hire foreign lawyers when I was CoP, which came with the directive that I must make these lawyers Special Reserve Police so they could target opponents of this Keith Rowley-led government.”