Gary: Time to take streets back from criminals

Heads of the various security arms held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the recent increase in murders and violent crimes, acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said yesterday.

Saying that it was “time to fight back and take back our streets from the criminal events,” Griffith said the meeting was convened by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

He disclosed that they looked at all the intelligence reports, “for us to utilise our resources in a detective manner for us to come up with a proper operational plan to peg back all the criminal elements in specific locations for specific units of the criminal underworld, to see what can be done and what should be done to ensure that this will not continue.”

Over the last two months, there has been an increase in shootings, murders and other drug and gang-related activities across the country. Last weekend there were seven murders, including triple and double murders in Kelly Village and Enterprise respectively on Friday and two unrelated murders on Saturday in Malabar and Montrose, Chaguanas.

Yesterday, Griffith said the heads of all the country’s law enforcement agencies looked closely at intelligence reports and developed an operational plan to fight back against the criminal elements.

“In the majority of homicides over the last few decades, we have estimated there are over 10,000 to 12,000 illegal firearms out there,” he said.

“What I’ll ask for is for people to continue bringing in the information to us so that we can extract that firearm from off the street. That one firearm, that one citizen may be aware of, that illegal firearm…and by us seizing that firearm, it can lead to preventing several murders in the very near future.”

He added, “My main focus is the illegal firearms, so again, I know where my priorities lie. That businessman who was murdered during a robbery over the weekend, maybe if he had acquired a firearm it would have protected him. That’s why I’m giving a fighting chance to farmers, small business owners and women to apply for legal firearms. We need to take this country back from criminal elements.”

During an interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew earlier yesterday, Griffith said if he is reappointed CoP he will continue to focus on training, accountability and transparency of officers and in the TTPS as a whole.

“I will continue to push the degree of respect the police officer would have for citizens and by and large, the citizens will have respect for police officers. Also, systems of accountability, measuring performance, better leadership and above all transparency,” he said.

Griffith said he also has no intentions of hiding wrongdoing by police officers.

“We intend to be very transparent, very accountable. So when you see police officers being arrested, held, disciplined, let us not take that to show that there are rogue elements in the service. It shows that we are cleaning up the service and that is my intention,” Griffith said.

On the topic of the TTPS’ collaborations with other sectors in society and narrowing down on the working relationship with the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), Griffith said it only indicates that the many organisations in the business sector now realise that they now have a Police Service that they can work with hand to hand.

“So working with them, the TTMA for example, provides an avenue of guidance and direction as well joint leadership, so that we formed a type of an association working hand in hand. It’s a matter of helping us to help you. They give us information, they give us advice on things that we can do to stop white-collar crime,” he said.

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