There is already plenty talk within the Police Service that there is a likelihood that Gary Griffith could become the next Commissioner of Police.
A former soldier becoming Commissioner of Police? A former Minister of National Security becoming Commissioner of Police?
Griffith is one of the persons who have applied for the position and the appointed person should be in the chair by December.
But would Griffith receive the support of the Police Service?
Apart from Griffith, some of the other contenders include the present acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, Deputy Commissioner Harold Phillip, Assistant Commissioner Irwin Hackshaw, and President of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Michael Seales.
One thing Griffith would have to bear in mind if he is selected!
Remember Canadians Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski? They resigned on August 7, 2012 after serving just two years of their three-year contracts. They were brought to Trinidad from Edmonton, Canada, to clean up the local gangs and to put a handle on crime.
But they were never allowed to settle as they never got the real cooperation from the membership of the Police Service.
Like any other organization, the Police Service is close-knit and outsiders are frowned upon. Look at when Scotland Yard officers came to Trinidad in 1993 after Rodwell Murray said there was a drug cartel operating in the Police Service, apart from a handful of assisting police officers, the majority shunned the Yardies and sent them packing.
With more than 150 police officers before the courts and on suspension, and with the amount always on sick leave, someone needs to take control of a less than impressive Police Service.
Williams has not done it in the five years he has been acting as Commissioner. Phillip has been tainted by a High Court judgment, and little is known about Hackshaw and Seales when it comes to leadership.
So would Griffith be the answer?
He spent 17 years in the Defence Force, serving as aide to the Chief of Defence Staff. He was Comptroller of the Prime Minister’s residence when Basdeo Panday was in office. He became a member of both the Congress of the People and the United National Congress during the term of the People’s Partnership Government.
He was National Security Adviser, then Minister of National Security before he was fired in February 2015 after it was discovered he became a witness for PCA Director, David West, in a defamation suit against Dr Keith Rowley, then Opposition Leader.
Is Gary Griffith tainted by all this? The Police Service Commission would have to consider all these factors before they come to a recommendation for the Parliament to debate.
Already, there are signals from within the Police Service that Griffith would not receive the support of the majority. Only time will tell. If selected, he would have to put a handle on the spiraling murder and crime rate and the fear among citizens that they are no longer safe.
After the September 29 deadline, Griffith issued a press release.
Griffith says he is optimistic he would be able to produce long-lasting results if appointed Police Commissioner, given his extensive military career and experience in coordinating law enforcement agencies through various anti-crime initiatives.
Griffith expressed his intention to reform the police service from a ‘bottom-up’ approach of leadership through example, citing his role in revitalizing the Rapid Response Unit and other divisions of the TTPS, during his tenure as National Security Minister.
He added, “I have a hands on knowledge of the Service, having worked alongside them for 17 years while in the military and also being a Minister of National Security. A Police Commissioner needs to stop spending so much time in Police Headquarters, wearing khaki uniform and holding a cane as if we are still in the 70s. Instead, he should be on patrols with his troops in tactical gear, showing leadership by example.
“I decided to apply for the post of CoP only after numerous requests by citizens and organisations, asking me to apply. This is arguably the most difficult and thankless post for anyone to hold in this country…there is no pleasure, glory, or personal gain to this in comparison to what would be expected by anyone who holds this post. I am not doing this for me, but to assist my country.”