App coming to help citizens report criminals anonymously - Griffith

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is drafting a plan to restructure the police service and expects to have the first plan before the end of the year.

A part of the new system includes an app to help citizens report criminals anonymously and improved ballistics investigations. 

He said that while in New York ballistics testing takes several days, in T&T is takes up to six years.

Griffith attended a police media briefing Thursday at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain and took questions from the media on the current state of affairs. 

"In the very near future, you would be seeing a total diversification in our mobile patrols but things pertaining to coastal patrols and you would be seeing changes in how we deal with air operations, forensic testing, ballistics testing, improvements in how we use technology, white collar crime, the revamp of the intelligence section," he said.

Griffith also urged citizens to get more involved.

"If you see something, say something. There is no such thing as the perfect crime, someone would know something," he said.

"But the only time people seem to have bionic eyes is when the police are involved," he said.

He admitted that some people are hesitant to come forward with information because the police may also be involved in the criminal activity.

"There is a fear and a concern of reprisal and what I would be doing is I would be providing an app for citizens to come out and give us information," he said.

"I cannot put my head on a block that each and every police officer can be trusted. Remember the police service comes from society, our society is not perfect," he said.

Griffith gave the assurance that "things" are being put in place to ensure the safety of those who report criminal police officers.

"We are putting systems in place to ensure a degree of accountability for any police officer involved in police activity," he said.

He warned the public that if they are aware of rogue police officers, instead of making a report at the police station, message him directly on 482-GARY.

He said he was already "monitoring" 30 shooters.

"I have been monitoring them like hawks now because they have been instrumental to the majority of homicides this year," he said.

"Give us the information and we will deal with them, but you cannot be turning a blind eye," he said.

The outspoken Commissioner chided the public for criticising police officers for doing their job.

"Prisoners would escape and persons are sympathetic to the prisoners because they believe that the prisoners did not wrong. Someone might have access to pinpoint a terrorist because the police trying to find a computer to stop a terrorist from threatening any one of your children, they find that it is wrong for us to deal with it in that manner," Griffith said.

"Our criminal elements using a religious place of worship to hide their masks and weapons and if the police decide to raid it, they say we should not have raided it during Eid, so there is a get-out-of-jail-free card based on religion," he said.

"This is the kind of madness we have reached to now where people have started to be sympathetic, aid and abet and condone wrongdoing in our country," he said.

"It's either we want to win this war on crime or not," he said.

Part of that war is against human trafficking and local brothels.

"It will be dealt with, with clinical operations. It is not just operations to deal with brothels, it has to do a lot with human trafficking and virtual slavery," he said.

He also blasted the political ignorance of the laws including the Sedition Act and the Criminal Law Act.

"It's an education campaign but as I said it is based on emotion," he said.

Griffith said that for years the police service was condemned for not doing what was required.

"Now we have been pushing that envelope and now automatically, the red flags are being triggered because every time something is done in this country, you find an excuse based on race. politics or religion," he said.

"I don't have time to worry about all three, I would respect all three but we would do what is required and we will not turn a blind eye based on the perception of what somebody will say," he said.

Despite his vociferous defense of the police service, the Commissioner admitted that sometimes police officers may be wrong and urged citizens to make use of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

"Never before have we seen so many police officers been arrested from kidnapping to being involved in gangs to fraud," he said.

He did not have the exact figures of how many were involved in these criminal activities but said some 300 officers are currently suspended.

"Some of them should never see a police uniform in their life again," he said.

- by Renuka Singh

 

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