Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith is giving the assurance to the rank and file of the police service that he is supporting them and is willing to do so by hitting the ground with them.
Griffith in his first week, promoted seven senior officers to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, the highest rank a commissioner can promote which is two ranks below his. He also met with and assured the Police Service Social and Welfare Association (PSSWA) that the long requested body cameras and non-lethal weapons will be implemented by October and will be meeting with National Security Minister Stuart Young on Thursday on the issue.
“His intentions on being one of the rank-and-file, has been accepted by his subordinates,” PSSWA president Insp Michael Seales said.
Seales said that within four days, his membership gave Griffith a passing grade and that the service is progressing and doing so “at a rapid rate” since Griffith took the reins of leadership.
“When you start to take care of the internal customer, the internal customer starts to take care of the external customer which is the population,” Seales said, adding “they (members of the association) are cheering him on and they have become his biggest cheerleader, especially those on the ground.”
Seales said that the feedback the association got from the membership, suggests that Griffith will take a direct and frontal approach which is something they welcome. The benefit of this is that there is a bridging of the gap between his office and the men on patrol.
Apart from looking like them and publicly stating that he will be there with them, Griffith, in giving out a personalised cell number 482-GARY, further rooted himself with his subordinates.
This, the association head said, showed that Griffith was also part of those who receive reports.
“He has opened the door for direct communication. Usually you have to go through the channels and consequently some things will get lost in translation. This could be part of the novelty of the position,” Seales said.
He added the association spoke to Griffith about changing the uniform, as well as, accepting donations from the public for body cameras and non-lethal weapons that had been stymied by bureaucracy in the past. Griffith is in agreement with changing the uniform and rolling out the use of non-lethal weapons and accepted an October 1st deadline for a measurable response to this.
“We are convinced right now that what he says is exactly what he does and he stands by his word and that is a wonderful thing for the association,” Seales said.
In his first appearance in uniform, Griffith was seen in a blue tactical suit, something usually worn by second division officers on patrol, as he addressed the media on securing the country after Tuesday’s earthquake. Some officers questioned his choice of wear as first division officers are usually in khaki and not blue.
When asked about his choice of uniform, he commented, “I intend to dress and to be on the ground with my troops. And how my troops will dress, I will dress in the appropriate manner.”
“People should have something better to do than to concern themselves about how I am dressed. It was a tactical situation and a tactical environment, and I dressed tactical. If anyone didn’t like it, then that is their issue. I will be on the ground with my troops and I am not going to be on the ground with them in tactical wear in khaki.”
Questioned as to whether he would be seen on raids, Griffith said he will be with his officers whenever he can.
On Saturday, Griffith paid surprise visits to nine police stations across the country as he embarked on a tour to meet officers “working on the ground”, so he could hear their concerns first-hand.
Arising out of those visits Griffith promised to get rid of the derelict vehicles littered at police stations across the country so the facilities could “look the part”.
Griffith said it was common to see a “little fortress” of derelict vehicles at this country’s police stations.
He, however, said this was “unacceptable” and promised to have the matter dealt with urgently. The derelict vehicles will be either “sold, removed or repaired”.
Griffith began his tour yesterday visiting police stations in west Trinidad and those at Penal, Mon Repos, Marabella, Siparia, and Fyzabad.
He has promised to visit all the police stations in this country and is hoping to have this done within his first month as Police Commissioner.
Griffith said the surprise visits are done so he can see for himself what the public and the police officers are faced with on a random day.
Griffith described yesterday’s visits as productive, saying he was happy to meet with his team of police officers and talk to them and listen to whatever concerns they may have and the police officers all responded positively to the visits.
Griffith reiterated that dealing with the country’s crime scourge is not a one-man mission and can only be successful if he has the support of the police officers.