Former police commissioner Gary Griffith believes the dismantling of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) will negatively impact the morale of the Police Service and endanger the lives of citizens.
The National Operational Task Force (NOTF) is the new unit that will replace SORT.
Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob has said that the NOTF will be headed by a female officer and ACP Jackman will be charged with overseeing operations.
He said more will be disclosed about the unit by month’s end.
Griffith said yesterday that SORT had notably helped to stop kidnappings, rescue victims and arrest criminals.
“Additionally, SORT’s role was to provide support for the other units within the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service), identifying and supporting the many good officers, and gathering intelligence on the rogue elements. This dismantling of SORT would no doubt negatively impact the morale of the entire TTPS, and it will also endanger the lives of some because the criminals will once again be free to infiltrate the TTPS and influence rogue elements without consequence, which all negatively impacts citizens,” he said.
Griffith opined that “the massive spike in crime” the country is now seeing, is because criminals are no longer fearful.
“A good measure of just how effectively SORT was affecting criminal activity was that during my three years of operations,” he said, “I received 33 death threats and the head of SORT seven, which is more than one-third combined, of the 114 the entire TTPS received. Pretty sure not even 1% of those figures were received before me and since I am no longer head of the TTPS,” he added.
Griffith also accused the government of using the TTPS as a “political tool”, saying that the government appeared to have leaked the information on the dismantling of SORT to the media.
He added: “Given the results of the THA elections and the rejection of the vaccine mandate by government workers, one understands their panic, but this is not an excuse to hurt citizens by forming an alliance with criminals. So whether it’s incompetence or malevolence fuelling their agenda, which has left every single citizen feeling less safe, it is time for a democratic change in leadership.”
He argued that SORT operated with about five per cent of the budget of its predecessor, the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT), and that SORT’s results were 10 times as good.
The main goal of the NOTF is aligned with the TTPS Strategic Goal and aids with the reduction of threat of crime perpetrated by criminal entities involved in the use of intimidating tactics, terrorism, extortion, corruption and related violence associated with, but not limited to, the use of firearms, improvised explosive devices and explosives, illegal drugs and drug trafficking.