Griffith: SSA asked for pastor to be SRP

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Gary Griffith –

Former commissioner of police Gary Griffith has defended the move to appoint Pastor Ian Albert Ezekiel Brown a Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer amidst the imbroglio over Brown and the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).

Griffith told Newsday the SSA has asked for Brown to be made an SRP.

“The SSA made the request stating they would like to have persons appointed to assist as covert operatives based on their qualifications, so those are the units that would do the background checks, the due diligence, checking and making sure the person has the qualifications needed.”

He said the SSA would send the recommendation to the office of the CoP, who would make the appointment.

“That is what is done all the time.

“There were about a few hundred police officers that came in as SRPs under me. Would you like me to explain the rationale for each of them as well? I would be more than willing.”

Police reportedly raided Brown’s Arima home on Saturday morning and discovered two police uniforms and two wireless radios.

Brown has since publicly said he is a “spy” for the SSA as an SRP. He reportedly provided documentation to back up his claim to another newspaper.

The news came days after a shake-up in the SSA management in which director Major Roger Best was sent on administrative leave and replaced by Brig Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer after a National Security Council recommendation to Cabinet.

Sections eight and nine of the Special Reserve Police Act say the Police Commissioner can appoint SRP officers.

Any male over 18 years old who is able-bodied and of good character can qualify.

Griffith said under his stewardship, the TTPS increased the number of SRPs used for covert operations, as is done globally. He said it was a move that showed results.

“For decades, we (the TTPS) never had undercover officers, sleeper cells, moles…

“When I started doing that for the first time, it played a big part in us getting information, finding out rogue police officers, and putting undercover, covert operatives deep in the underworld for us to pinpoint and realise exactly what was required.

“That played a big part in giving us information to do what is known as predictive policing. So I don’t understand what is the concern here.

“That has been done for decades, with SRPs being selected based on the heads of units. Be it the Gender-Based Violence Unit, Cybercrime Unit, the Fraud Unit, Forensic Department and even SSA, where they may require some degree of expertise from persons who may not be in a police career but have the type of expertise required. This happens all over the world.”

Griffith denied having a relationship with Brown.

Videos circulating online show Brown and Griffith appearing virtually in an ISAAC 98.1 FM The Promise programme in September, along with host Promise Isaac.

In addition, Brown claimed he mentored and “saved” Griffith, getting him and his son to convert.

Asked by Newsday about this and if he was a member of Brown’s church, Griffith said the pastor was mistaken.

“You notice I listened and never acknowledged. At no time have I ever changed my religion. I have always been a Roman Catholic. Same thing with my son.

“At no time has he (Brown) been a mentor for me. I probably met him on one or two occasions…

“All of that that he spoke about, I’ve never been to his church. I do not know where his church is. I have absolutely no affiliation with his church.” Brown has a church in Arima and another in Caratal.

Griffith added, “I brought it to his attention after, and he said that he had mistaken me with somebody else because he mentioned a Samaroo lady that I have no relationship with.”

The Rev Don Hamilton, National Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI), told Newsday Brown did theological studies at its institution but is not a minister with PAWI.

He reserved comment on the situation, saying it did not make sense to him.

Newsday sent questions to the police’s corporate communications unit on Brown’s claims. No response had been provided up to publication time.