New twist in gun licence-for-sale probe – 2 COPS ARRESTED

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob.

AFTER months of quiet, behind-the-scenes investigations, two high-ranking police officers from the Firearms Division of the TTPS were arrested on Tuesday in relation to alleged criminal conduct in that division including the pocketing of large sums of money for the fast-tracking of the application process for firearms users licences (FULs).

Senior police sources confirmed that the two, a Sergeant and the other who is a member of the First Division of the TTPS, were detained by officers from the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

The two were said to be still in custody on Tuesday evening assisting police in their investigations.

Formal investigations commenced after a report was submitted by retired Appeal Court Judge Stanley John, to the Police Service Commission (PSC) who had appointed him to investigate allegations of corruption in the Firearms Division.

A WELL-OILED

CRIMINAL ENTERPRISEJohn, in his report, described the system by which FULs are given as a, “well-oiled criminal enterprise.”

The report, published in the media, indicated that the system for processing FUL applications was dysfunctional and paved the way for corrupt activities. The report also named officers and businessmen involved in activities at the Firearms Division.

The report said more than 4,030 provisional permits, 6,832 FULs and seven firearm dealers licenses were issued during the three-year period in which Gary Griffith was police commissioner, as compared to a total of 3,812 FULs, 285 provisional licenses and three firearm dealers’ licenses issued in the ten years, prior to Griffith’s appointment.

John’s report indicated that people got FULs approved following less-than-thorough investigations were carried out. Of concern too, was the trend that some applicants were given permission to own multiple firearms.

While these provisions are provided for in the Firearms Act, the report showed that the licenses were issued within days, and in some cases on the same day of the application for the special license (to own more than one firearm).

UNCONCERNED: Former police commissioner Gary Griffith. File photo.

GRIFFITH:

SO WHAT?

Contacted for comment on Tuesday, former commissioner now political aspirant Griffith said he was was not concerned over the arrests of the two officers, saying police officers have been arrested and detained for questioning before.

“We have seen dozens of police officers arrested and suspended for all sorts of things on a regular basis because that happens in all police services around the world. Every single week, police officers are arrested and suspended. So why should it be a concern for me today?”

Griffith scoffed at the arrests, claiming that the entire investigation was politically motivated.

“After over a year – or 18 months practically – when (Stanley) John spoke about a well-oiled criminal industry, one would have expected hundreds of police officers to be arrested by now.

“But up to now, only two have been held for questioning. Even when I was commissioner we held more officers for criminal activities pertaining to firearms.

“This shows that when politicians decide to interfere, to hand-pick people who they know and who have no investigative training (to conduct enquiries) they would ultimately put their foot in their mouth and embarrass the police service,” Griffith said.

Attempts to reach Ag Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob for a comment were unsuccessful.