Express Editorial : Daily

WE truly wish we did not have reason to return to this issue, but we do and so we must.

Commissioner Gary Griffith’s proclivity for jumping the gun in defence of his officers, especially members of the elite Special Operations Response Team (SORT) which reports directly to him, is misplaced and his tendency to abuse members of the public is unwarranted. We recognise his instinct to protect officers but do not understand his impatience in allowing the facts to emerge and speak for themselves.

This newspaper is fully aware that in raising the issue we will once again attract the Commissioner’s ire and be accused of siding with criminals but we have been here much longer than Gary Griffith has been in policing and have good reason to insist that all parties involved in any killing, including a police killing, stand on the side of due process. If Commissioner Griffith is really serious about building public confidence in the Police Service then he must be prepared to allow the public to express their concerns and have those concerns addressed in the appropriate manner. Responding to public concerns with sarcasm and ridicule at best demeans the office of Commissioner and, at worst, interferes with the justice process.

We repeat these concerns in light of Commissioner Griffith’s criticism of members of the public who gave the media what they said were eye-witness accounts of the police killing of teenager Rochyon King Ashterman and his girlfriend Kristan Kerri Serries while in their car in Santa Cuz on Saturday. In a statement issued soon after the killings, Commissioner Griffith took to task the residents who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, sarcastically referring to them as people who have “bionic eyes” when the police are defending themselves against imminent threat but “wear blinkers and see nothing’ when gang members kill innocent persons.

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Unless the Commissioner himself has “bionic eyes”, one would have to question his basis for taking sides in an incident that he himself did not witness. The appropriate response in any matter of disputed accounts is an investigation. Surely there is a protocol to be followed in such cases. The mother of one of the victims has already signalled her intention to file a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority, already burdened with numerous complaints related to police killings.

Perhaps Commissioner Griffith does not yet understand why the public holds the T&T Police Service in low esteem, as was underscored by the findings of the Market Facts and Opinion poll published in the Sunday Express. If so, we can help him by pointing to the long history of police officers involved in extra-judicial killings as uncovered by the Scott Drug Report of the 1980s, and to the long list of officers who have appeared before the court on charges ranging from murder, to kidnapping, robbery and other serious crimes. Since he has been in office, several officers have been charged and taken before the court.

This is why we urge Commissioner Griffith against jumping to conclusions and to allowing the facts to emerge by due process.


WHILE there are indeed questions to be answered by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar about the claim that she alerted fired cabinet minister Marlene McDonald to her impending arrest, the equally important issue of police confidentiality needs to be addressed.

THAT contract for $485 million between the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company (CGGC) continues to raise profoundly disturbing questions. But it also provides an excellent opportunity to pursue the transparency and accountability that has long eluded us in Trinidad and Tobago.

IT is fundamental that citizens are entitled to understand and, if appropriate, criticise decisions made by the Government or public authorities and also to be fully informed about the involvement and role played by the key decision makers, whether Ministers or Cabinet appointees to Boards.

IF you have been following the unfolding of the Brexit dilemma in the British parliament you may have been as taken as I was by the last Speaker of the House.

I HAD no prior information that the Express had commissioned a poll on Dr Keith Rowley’s performance as Prime Minister after holding office for four years, far less that publication of the results would coincide with my return as a columnist in last week’s Sunday Express.

Generally speaking, this nation has become a mentally sick society and is decaying day by day at a fast rate. This rapid decay and rampage of crime, which has now become an epidem­ic in Trinidad and Tobago, is caused mainly by poli­ticians failing to do the right thing since our Independence.