Police Commissioner Gary Griffith hasn’t resigned, he’s sticking to his guns—and he’s disappointed about an article where Government sources criticised his recent statements about Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Yesterday, following rumours surfacing on Facebook that he had resigned, Griffith told the T&T Guardian, “People know this side of Gary Griffith—I do not retreat. I do not resign.”
He also took issue with a report which suggested he was “in a jam” concerning his recent controversial statements on the Prime Minister following the Bayside Towers pool party issue.
The article stated Government will send a written complaint on Griffith’s statements to the Police Service Commission. The PSC was reported as meeting this week on Griffith’s conduct and the T&T Guardian confirmed the body is scheduled to meet tomorrow.
Addressing this directly, Griffith said, “This is a sensational article to politicise and undermine the office of the Commissioner of Police on someone’s behalf.”
Griffith doubled-down in defending his recent statements where he’d sparred with Rowley. After national outrage over the fact that no one was arrested after police were called to deal with 40-plus youths at the Bayside pool party, Rowley last Saturday called for fair law enforcement treatment on the public health regulations.
Griffith, who’d felt the issue was being made out to be over race, colour, politics and religions, accused Rowley of being a hypocrite, drawing reference to disregard for COVID protocols in the recent General Election campaign. He’d called for Rowley to retract his statement.
But Rowley called a meeting with Griffith on Monday and the subsequent article quoting Government sources complained about Griffith’s statements and noted recourse to the PSC.
Only two weeks ago, Griffith had displayed high marks he’d received from the PSC in his recent job review. The commission hires, promotes and disciplines within the police service, including the commissioner.
Yesterday, Griffith said, “I don’t know where they got that (article) from.”
He queried a “... senior government source being so instrumental to know government will send a report to the PSC of a matter of national interest.”
“What value was it to inform the country in such a clandestine way that a report was being sent to the PSC? If they want to send a report, send it - but doing it in this way undermines the commissioner’s office,” Griffith said.
“The PSC meets on a regular basis and on most occasions discussions involve activities/actions by the police and commissioner... so obviously this (current) matter is something they’d discuss, it will be no extraordinary matter as it’s a matter of national concern.”
He added, “One thing Gary Griffith is not, is a coward and he won’t hide behind anyone to speak on his behalf.”
Asked if he felt the situation might curtail extension of his contract next August, Griffith said, “Not at all - look at my annual review. No commissioner has ever received such a high ranking.”
On if he still felt Rowley was a “hypocrite,” Griffith said, “The Prime Minister and I spoke. This is water under the bridge, we’ve moved on. Reminder however: the police service is an independent institution, we’re not summoned by any politician. I was invited to Monday’s meeting.”
Saying the current PSC is very professional, Griffith said if he has to meet the body on the matter, “.... There’s nothing for me to account on what happened. For decades people thought police reported to politicians, but the Police Service is an independent body.”
“I’ll go forward to reveal what I did was to clarify the misconception caused by some based on comments that the police weren’t doing their job and were being selective. That’s a damning allegation against the police when facts showed all we were doing was adhering to and enforcing the law and not breaching the constitutional rights of people —being unable to arrest persons in private complexes.”
Griffith insisted the public health regulations applied to being in public and not for private property. He defended Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who’s come under fire on the regulations.
“The Attorney General was clear on what I said when he also said the police operated in dozens of matters when large gatherings were held in private property - we dispersed people. But those other incidents were never a concern,” he said.
“The only reason the reaction to this (Bayside) matter occurred was due to skin complexion et cetera. No law was broken no-one was arrested. But despite that, people wanted persons to be arrested due to skin complexion.
“However, I cannot have police operate in this manner. It’s inappropriate for people to say police must arrest others in private properties when we lack authority to do so—I won’t have the police breach citizens’ constitutional rights.”