Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, has sent a written apology to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, over remarks he made last month regarding the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s (TTPS) jurisdiction on private property.
“It was in no way appropriate for me to make such a comment that could allude to the comments I made to the Prime Minister. Since then, I have written to the honourable Prime Minister, I have apologised and I wish to take this time openly to let the public know that I do apologise for the comments I made,” Griffith told reporters at the weekly TTPS media briefing.
Rowley had during a Ministry of Health COVID-19 news conference, said that it cannot be a case of different strokes for different folks, and that he expects “serious and sustained law enforcement” with respect to the COVID-19 regulations.
The two men were at loggerheads over whether police could have intervened on private property in an upscale section of west Trinidad where the occupants were said to be in breach of the COVID-19 regulations
“He does not have a concern when we release 27 persons who actually broke the law in Sea Lots (a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of the capital), swimming in a public place, escaping and trying to evade police captivity, that shows hypocrisy, that is not a democracy,” Griffith said at the time.
In his apology Thursday, Griffith said while he still stands by the spirit of his comments, he acknowledged that his delivery was unsavoury.
“Even though the message was accurate, how the message went about became lost because of how I said it. It came from my strong degree of passion, but again that is no excuse, it was completely unacceptable. I apologise to the country for the comments that I made,” he said.
The Commissioner said that despite seeking to ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens were upheld, he understands that his comments were inappropriate.
“There was this perception that the police service wasn’t doing all that we could. My strong degree of passion for making sure that I serve the country and I serve my citizens as well as looking after my police officers,” he said.
The apology follows a meeting Griffith had with Prime Minister Rowley and National Security Minister, Stuart Young on September 14.
Meanwhile, Griffith, who was due to go on a month’s leave from Friday, has said that he will not now do so after holding talks with Young on the issue.
“Because of the present situation that is ongoing as it pertains to a very serious investigation that may involve senior officers in the TTPS and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF), it may not be the right time for me to go on vacation,” he said.
Police have launched an investigation into the TT$22 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) seized in a raid on the Drugs Sou-Sou (DSS) premises in La Horquetta, along the east-west corridor, last week.
Griffith launched the probe after he said preliminary investigations had shown that the money was handed back to the operator of the scheme without his knowledge and those of his Deputy Commissioners.
Griffith said then that he found it “it very suspicious that $22 million in cash was seized and within hours, that money was checked and a decision made to give it back without the input of the Financial Intelligence Bureau (FIB) of the TTPS.”