Dyer-Griffith stands firm, won’t cave in to fear

Nicole Dyer-Griffith has worn many hats in her life, as a beauty queen, a registered nurse, a businesswoman, a politician, an executive director and consultant, and being the partner of a police commissioner has not fazed her one bit, even with the much-publicised recent death threat against her.

Dyer-Griffith, the wife of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, described people who make phone threats as cowards adding those threats will never move her to cower in fear.

She admitted, “It is prudent to be very guided on the information disseminated. As such, you will appreciate I will not divulge related specifics. Of course, as I mentioned in other interviews, these matters will arise from time to time simply because they come with the territory.

“Certainly, in terms of adjustments related directly to Gary’s role as commissioner, yes, we have made a few, some of which we are familiar with – having had similar experiences in the past. Nevertheless, even with familiar territory, there will be vastly new experiences, which we have come to appreciate and manage one step at a time.”

Described by many as articulate and strong-willed, the mother of one told Sunday Newsday she always cringes when asked about her new role as the wife of the CoP.

“Ah, you know, when asked about the ‘role of wife of…’ I tend to cringe a bit, as I have invested most of my life creating my own pathways and crafting my own story. However, in crafting my journey, Gary’s role has always been that of a key character. On reflection, I never recall Gary being asked about his role, when I served as a former government senator and parliamentary secretary.

“Nevertheless, the opportunity to create for impact exists, and as such, I accepted it wholeheartedly. In fact, I only recently appreciated that there is a formal role called Patron of the Police Wives Association – which I look forward to hearing much more about. Further to this, and since his inception, I have partnered with the TTPS Social and Welfare Association’s president, Insp Michael Seales, and together we have created exciting synergies that will no doubt be of positive impact to the men and women of the TTPS.”

Dyer-Griffith added that in partnering with the association they were able to source and donate numerous appliances, including stoves and refrigerators, to members of the police who were affected by last month’s floods, thanks to the generous donations of the business community.

“Further, in supporting Gary’s drive,” she said, “I felt I wanted to contribute by developing a system to strengthen the social contract between the members of the national community and the TTPS – in other words – strengthen the mutual synergies. As a result, the ‘I support our service’ campaign was developed.”

This campaign was pitched to members of the business community who immediately came on board, by identifying small tangible ways in which the men and women of the police service could and would be recognised as adding value.

“Yes, it is their job. However, can we really pay someone for placing their lives on the line for us on a daily basis? It boils down to what can we do to demonstrate…we appreciate what you do.” She insisted that while it could be argued that there are negative elements within the police service, she maintains this, like any other service, is a microcosm of TT society. As such, to me it’s simply about doing the best that you can do for others.”

Dyer-Griffith said she has managed so far to encourage over 140 organisations to support this initiative, but there are many more areas where support is needed.

Asked if she gives her husband any advice because of her wealth of knowledge, Dyer-Griffith said, “Gary is completely capable of getting the job done without my intervention on his operating strategies. He has a competent, dedicated team of TTPS professionals, bolstered by his training at Royal Sandhurst Military Academy, time spent in the Defence Force, as a former national security minister, among other placements, have prepared him adequately.”

Dyer-Griffith has been an advocate for pepper spray and tasers to be used in the fight against crime. During the presentation of the 2018-2019 fiscal package Government announced it will be buying those items for the police to use. She welcomed the announcement and said, “My advocacy for the legalisation of non-lethal devices for the protection of citizens continues and has absolutely nothing to do with the TTPS.

“As is public knowledge, as I have advocated for citizens to be afforded this access for years. Whilst I appreciate the double-edged-sword dynamics of such a decision, I also appreciate there are restrictions and guidelines that can be put in place for management such as age restrictions, canister limits, purchasing restrictions etc. However, such measures are within the remit of the law and adjusting same is a parliamentary process. Procuring same for the TTPS is entirely within the commissioner’s remit, as it forms part of a larger ‘use of force’ policy – which is seen internationally, when you simply look at the uniform kits – and attendant belts. So these are two very different areas of implementation.”

Asked how she felt about moving from her home in Maraval to the commissioner’s official residence in St James, Dyer-Griffith said having to relocate from one’s home is never an easy task, but both she and Gary agreed to the move as a team.

“We operate as such, and as a team, we also recognised that the official residence forms part of the office and one must acquiesce to the respective protocol. Whereas my style is certainly the more contemporary design, the CoP’s residence, I understand, is one of the oldest buildings in Port of Spain, and it is indeed an honour to be afforded the opportunity to experience this history.”

She concluded that one of the elements of her life is that she and her husband are surrounded by “a large contingent of praying people who have our backs at all times, in all ways.’

“No doubt it also helps,” she said. “I am very aware that with public office comes many varied experiences. I have been down this road many times, so it’s another chapter in my book of life–and I am trying to get as many dynamic pages written as possible.”

In the interim, she intends to continue to develop her own creative avenues and ventures.