Former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is claiming there is “blatant political interference” in the running of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).
“If at any time our nation has seen deliberate political interference in the running of the Police Service, it is today,” Griffith stated yesterday as he noted that every single person he hired on contract was fired.
Deputy Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob told the Express that 15 persons were fired with immediate effect in a cost saving exercise.
In an earlier statement Griffith had defended the hiring of persons on contract and detailed their level of expertise.
Griffith said every single right thinking citizen should be very concerned that the hierarchy of the TTPS “appears to have been pressured to take directives, to execute a well orchestrated plan”.
“It is inconceivable to think that the TTPS hierarchy would terminate every single contract of persons that I appointed, without a directive, especially given the fact that these individuals were at the heart of the remarkable numbers, and public sentiment turnaround, that the TTPS has enjoyed in the past couple of years, under my watch,” he stated.
This includes the development of the 21st century systems, such as the TTPS App, and online reporting, the development of the Commissioner’s command centre, the implementation of dashboard cameras, and X-ray vehicles which allows the TTPS to see weapons and drugs in vehicles traversing the nation’s roadways, he added.
“We often hear the term dismantling of the National Security apparatus being bandied about, but what is occurring before our eyes, is just that, because while assets such as an OPV (off-shore patrol vessel) are important, hypocritically, some appear to be bent on devaluing the human resource capital, which is even more pivotal to the success of all of the TTPS’s functions,” stated Griffith.
Griffith went on to state that this “purging” at the TTPS reminds him of what occurs after election campaigns, where personnel on state boards are discarded, regardless of whether they had performed admirably or not.
“This is a logical conclusion that perhaps alludes to a witch hunt that is born out of petty vindictiveness, which is made even more glaring because individuals were fired on the spot, without the involvement of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Security, the person responsible for terminating contracts,” he stated.
He said citing budgetary cuts as a reason for this move is a “bogus argument”, since only the civilian staff hired by him are being terminated, and their contracts are being paid off, which means the taxpayers will be footing a bill for no work.
He stated that it would mean that the TTPS will either hire new contractors, or they will put these jobs in the hands of officers who are not trained or qualified to undertake the specialised tasks.
Justifying the hiring of these persons on contract, he said the reason these jobs were in the hands of civilians for over a decade, is because the TTPS recruitment mechanism does not cater to these specific fields of endeavour, which is why most of the persons hired were poached from the private sector.
“I do express sympathy for the hierarchy of the TTPS however, because I myself also faced pressure, just a few months ago, from a government official who wanted me to appoint a constable to head the Cyber Crimes Unit, which is responsible for the interception of electronic data, including that from phones,” he stated.
“I rejected the attempts to exert pressure, and perhaps this is the price I am now paying,” he added.
“Whilst this act negatively impacts the good and decent individuals who answered the call to serve, including the person hired to take care of the new hockey grounds, whose only ‘crime’ was being employed by me; in the end, such actions could never augur well for the morale and operational capabilities of the TTPS, which leaves me deeply concerned about how this will impact the safety and security of all our nation’s citizens,” stated Griffith.