Gary Griffith

Former top cop: Gary Griffith

In the past ten weeks since the imbroglio surrounding the position of police commissioner began in August, there has been a spike in the murder rate in the country.

Acting police commissioner Gary Griffith, who remains on leave, told the Express by phone yesterday that under his leadership there was a “fear factor” in place to deal with criminals.

“Whilst I was in office as the substantive commissioner, I had provided many deterrents and policies and there was a fear factor for criminal elements. I did what was required when I was in office...it would be inappropriate for me to speak about what’s being done now,” he said.

According to Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) data, in 2020 there was the highest reduction in crime in 30 years.

The murder toll was reduced by more than 25 per cent, according to police data.

In the first six months of 2021-from January 1 to July 31-when Griffith was the substantive police commissioner, there was a reduction of more than 20 per cent in murders and other crimes when compared to 2020.

There were 50 fewer murders in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same time period in 2020.

Following the end of his three-year contract in August, murders started climbing.

From August to October, there have been 47 more murders compared to the same period last year.

Last year, Covid-19, the state of emergency (SoE) and the curfew were cited as contributing factors to the crime decrease.

However, all those factors are still in place and the murders have escalated.

“The TTPS has good leaders and good officers. It does not help morale when persons accuse them of underperforming and working at 40 per cent capacity,” Griffith stated yesterday, referring to comments made by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

Griffith said this is a service where dozens have lost their lives due to Covid-19 whilst serving their country, and all working tirelessly to keep the country safe, “yet we have armchair critics saying they are working at 40 per cent capacity”.

He said these errors all contribute to increased crime as it can demoralise TTPS officers.

“I recall all of last year and the period this year when I was in office and every crime was being reduced, the critics stated that it was because of Covid, SoE and curfew. I guess based on what is going on now, Covid, SoE and curfew has ended over the last ten weeks,” he said.

“If such individuals spend more time providing the tools urgently required, which is their main job, instead of using his imaginary measurement tool to judge how hard the police is working or trying to be the recruiting officer for the TTPS to know who is a civilian, then it would help the TTPS in their duties,” said Griffith.

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