UK training for local Cops to prosecute criminals

A new colour-cod­ed threat alert sys­tem and train­ing for po­lice of­fi­cers to pros­e­cute cas­es are some of the im­me­di­ate out­comes of a week-long vis­it to the Unit­ed King­dom by Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith.

Grif­fith en­gaged in “sev­er­al meet­ings with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials from vary­ing de­part­ments,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on his In­sta­gram Page.

Grif­fith, along with Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, and Chief of De­fence Staff Hay­den Pritchard met with of­fi­cials from Scot­land Yard, the Joint Ter­ror­ism Analy­sis Cen­tre, the Na­tion­al Cy­ber Crime Cen­tre, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Train­ing Fa­cil­i­ty among oth­er agen­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to Grif­fith, a colour-cod­ed threat alert sys­tem will be im­ple­ment­ed with­in the Po­lice Ser­vice “hope­ful­ly” in about three weeks. The lev­els will be green, am­ber, red and black. The lev­els will in­crease based on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from T&T’s in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

“You will no longer be hear­ing about per­sons claim­ing that they in­tend to beef up se­cu­ri­ty,” he said. “We do not work in an abat­toir to beef up se­cu­ri­ty.”

Grif­fith says there are im­me­di­ate ben­e­fits to this, as “each and every po­lice of­fi­cer, every di­vi­sion will be aware of their role and func­tion based on the es­ca­la­tion of the threat and colour code.”

Grif­fith be­lieves this will en­sure max­i­mum ef­fec­tive­ness with­in the ser­vice.

A Unit­ed King­dom team will al­so ar­rive in a few weeks to train lo­cal po­lice pros­e­cu­tors to plug “sev­er­al loop­holes” that al­low crim­i­nals to es­cape jus­tice.

Grif­fith ad­mits that mis­takes have been made, but he says he will utilise the ex­per­tise of this team “to as­sist” in en­sur­ing that cas­es are air-tight.

The team which will be con­tract­ed will help the TTPS “go through the sys­tem prop­er­ly, ac­cu­rate­ly and en­sure there are no loop­holes and win­dows of op­por­tu­ni­ty” for al­leged crim­i­nals.

While he says the TTPS is deal­ing with law en­force­ment, he says they must al­so deal with how cas­es are pros­e­cut­ed to elim­i­nate “op­por­tu­ni­ty for per­sons to beat the sys­tem.”

The Com­mis­sion­er al­so aims to es­tab­lish a spe­cial counter-ter­ror­ism unit aris­ing out of his vis­it to the UK.

Griffith said, “I have contracted a senior prosecutorial team from the UK to assist the police service ensuring we could improve the prosecutorial aspect of the police service. Many loopholes used by people charged by police have resulted in them beating the system. This training will assist the criminal justice system with respect to policing.”

Carnival security plans discussed, Cops to get Tasers & Pepper Spray

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith has re­vealed the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice an­ti-crime mea­sures for the Car­ni­val sea­son to of­fi­cials of the Na­tion­al Car­ni­val Com­mis­sion (NCC).

A press re­lease is­sued by the TTPS cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit yes­ter­day af­ter­noon stat­ed that the plans were dis­cussed as Grif­fith toured the fa­cil­i­ties at the Queen’s Park Sa­van­nah. 

While the re­lease stat­ed that Grif­fith said that the Na­tion­al Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre will be ac­ti­vat­ed to as­sist in man­ag­ing safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty dur­ing the sea­son, it gave no fur­ther de­tails of oth­er planned mea­sures that were dis­cussed. 

“The strate­gies were well re­ceived by all stake­hold­ers, who ex­pressed their in­ten­tions to work close­ly with each oth­er, to en­sure that Port-of-Spain, the coun­try and all cit­i­zens are safe and se­cure for Car­ni­val 2019,” the re­lease said. 

Al­so present dur­ing the tour were NCC chair­man Win­ston “Gyp­sy” Pe­ters, NCC CEO Coll­in Lu­cas, Se­nior Supt Ethel­bert Aguilal of the Guard and Emer­gency Branch (GEB), Se­nior Supt Floris Hodge-Grif­fith of the Port-of-Spain Di­vi­sion and act­ing As­sis­tant Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Mervyn Layne.


Members of the TT Police Service’s Emergency Response Unit will begin training next week in the use of Tasers and pepper spray, Police Commission Gary Grifith said today.

The training is expected to be completed by month’s end and the 600 selected officers will be assigned specially designed belts to hold pepper spray, a Taser, batons, a firearm and handcuffs.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in the 2019 budget, said the Government had agreed to purchase the belts.

When he was national security minister Griffith had strongly recommended the use of non-lethal weapons, including pepper spray and Tasers.

Griffith said, “I have seen Tasers, tested them and the next course of action is to make a selection and order but we are going to start training on how to use them. Depending on the escalation of threats, officers will utilise the items on the belt to minimise and subdue threats.”

Griffith- We need to work to­geth­er as a team in sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion.

Un­less sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion is im­ple­ment­ed quick­ly, T&T could be sad­dled with more than 100,000 new crim­i­nals in the next five years. That was the warn­ing from Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith when he ad­dressed a meet­ing of the Ch­agua­nas In­ter­a­gency Team on Wednes­day night.

Grif­fith re­ferred to a re­cent so­cial me­dia video of a group of teenagers and chil­dren walk­ing through Nel­son Street, Port-of -Spain, mim­ic­k­ing gang­sters.

“You can’t write off these young peo­ple and say it’s a lost cause, it’s not. It’s sim­i­lar to the 12-year-old that threat­ened to kill me,” he said, adding that such sit­u­a­tions were the “prod­uct of our so­ci­ety where cer­tain adults now…the 5000 gang mem­bers have been push­ing this style on to our young peo­ple.”

Grif­fith said while law en­force­ment units cur­rent­ly have nu­mer­i­cal and tac­ti­cal su­pe­ri­or­i­ty, this could change in five years if sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion mea­sures are not strength­ened.

He added: “We need to work to­geth­er as a team to deal with that as­pect of sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion. The more we work in sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion, the less is re­quired in pri­ma­ry crime pre­ven­tion which is where the polic­ing comes in.

“Hav­ing said that I will do my job deal­ing with pri­ma­ry crime pre­ven­tion. It is re­al­ly im­por­tant for us not to look at sec­ondary crime pre­ven­tion, not as a sec­ondary com­mod­i­ty. It’s so im­por­tant. If we do not deal with this sit­u­a­tion now, in years to come we will be out­num­bered be­cause of what we are see­ing with cer­tain young per­sons in so­ci­ety. They are look­ing up at these in­di­vid­u­als and are see­ing them as the Robin Hoods of the com­mu­ni­ty.

“This is why I speak to you here. You will be aware who are the thugs, who are the punks, who are the gang mem­bers, who are the per­sons on the street cor­ners who are try­ing to in­flu­ence young per­sons in­to a life of crime be­cause it’s easy to in­flu­ence young minds.”

The Com­mis­sion­er said ini­tia­tives as the po­lice youth clubs and com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing will be strength­ened. He al­so point­ed out that his meet­ings with com­mu­ni­ty and busi­ness groups should be about much more than try­ing to of­fload crime plans and make re­quests for a firearms li­cense.

Grif­fith said he is deal­ing with 13,000 ap­pli­ca­tions for firearms li­cens­es and will be act­ing with­in the law to is­sue them to suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions.

On the is­sue of po­lice re­sponse to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty, he an­nounced that ten emer­gency re­sponse pa­trol ve­hi­cles will be as­signed specif­i­cal­ly to the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion to re­spond di­rect­ly to calls from an op­er­a­tional cen­tre.

North Eastern Division sees reduction in crime

Despite challenges, senior police in the North Eastern Division reported improvement in the detection of crime and overall reduction in serious crimes in their division.

Supt Robert Phillip, who will be temporarily filling the role of former Snr Supt Surendra Sagramsingh as head of the North Eastern Division, yesterday confirmed police had seen some success in the division and continued to work closely with the public for the Christmas season.

“There has been a reduction in serious reported crimes for the division from January 1 to present. The division has seen a decrease from 969 in 2017 to 736 in 2018. This decrease is witnessed in areas such as wounding and shooting.

“There has also been a decrease in burglaries and break-ins with 124 of these occurring last year compared to 83 occurring this year. Larceny has also seen a decrease with 69 occurring this year compared to 102 for the same period last year.”

Phillip said an increase in patrols and exercises particularly along the Eastern Main Road were responsible for the reductions.

He said among the increased operations, police have continued to target drug blocks through increased mobile and foot patrols with particular emphasis along the North Coast and business areas.

Phillip also said that for the year thus far 3,395 speeding tickets have already been issued and 1,000 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

CoP Gary Griffith is T&T’s very own Superman

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith likened him­self to Su­per­man on Wednes­day, as he stat­ed that his “kryp­tonite”, or main weak­ness, is get­ting con­crete ev­i­dence to con­vict peo­ple who are known crim­i­nals.

“If you can’t ex­plain your wealth it gives me some­thing now that will take away my kryp­tonite be­cause peo­ple know how to beat the sys­tem,” Grif­fith said at the launch of an An­ti-Gang Train­ing sem­i­nar host­ed by the US Em­bassy, ti­tled ‘Best Prac­tices in In­ves­ti­gat­ing Gang-Re­lat­ed Ac­tiv­i­ty” at the Po­lice Acad­e­my in St James.

“Every­one claims they know who the crim­i­nals are, they know who the gang lead­ers are, they know who the gang mem­bers are, they know where the drugs are com­ing from, but it’s easy to say, it’s easy to have in­for­ma­tion, it may be easy to have in­tel­li­gence,” Grif­fith said.

“That dif­fer­ence from in­tel­li­gence to ev­i­dence for con­vic­tion that is where the prob­lem lies, and it hurts me, it re­al­ly hurts me in the two months that I am here where we know for a fact we have every­thing to pin­point who is a gang mem­ber, who would have pressed that trig­ger,” he said.

“Get­ting in­for­ma­tion and hear­ing per­sons stat­ing that they are see­ing the body twitch­ing and you can’t ar­rest the per­son be­cause of that dif­fer­ence of in­tel­li­gence and ev­i­dence and this sem­i­nar will help us tremen­dous­ly in mak­ing sure we can shift from that in­tel­li­gence to turn to ev­i­dence,” Grif­fith said.

US Am­bas­sador to Trinidad and To­ba­go Joseph Mon­del­lo ex­pressed his in­ter­est in con­tin­u­ing to part­ner with lo­cal law en­force­ment to bring gang mem­bers to jus­tice and en­sure safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty for all cit­i­zens.

Grif­fith was laud­ed by At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi and Jus­tice Gillian Lucky for his work so far as com­mis­sion­er.

“In the fight against crime there must be a co­or­di­nat­ed and com­pe­tent ap­proach by all the en­ti­ties in­volved in law en­force­ment,” Lucky said.

“The Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice is un­doubt­ed­ly the flag­ship in this fight and the pub­lic must be able to re­pose the ut­most trust and con­fi­dence in the or­gan­i­sa­tion that is man­dat­ed to pro­tect and serve all law-abid­ing cit­i­zens.”

“This trust and con­fi­dence, how­ev­er, must be earned and I am there­fore pleased that over the past few weeks the na­tion has wit­nessed a re­newed strength, vi­tal­i­ty and fo­cus in the op­er­a­tions of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice,” she said.

“Com­men­da­tion must be giv­en to the new com­mis­sion­er of po­lice Mr Gary Grif­fith who in record time has been able to mar­shal his forces and to send the pow­er­ful mes­sage that those who break the law will be un­earthed and be made to face the due process of the law,” Lucky said.

Al-Rawi con­grat­u­lat­ed Grif­fith for the an­nounced merg­er of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Bu­reau, the An­ti-Cor­rup­tion In­ves­ti­ga­tions Bu­reau, the Fraud Squad and the Cy­ber Crime Unit, say­ing that the move will strength­en the TTPS’s abil­i­ty to tar­get gangs through their fi­nan­cial re­sources.

Griffith turns TTPS intelligence-driven

CoP Gary Griffith is convinced the introduction of new and innovative policies, some of which are intelligence-driven, have contributed in a meaningful way to a decrease in homicides between September and October.

Up until yesterday, the murder toll stood at 459. Griffith said every effort is being made to reduce homicides.

The new anti-crime initiatives worked well when he assumed office, he said, and he believes that with more policies being rolled out, the country will reap the desired results. Griffith says the level of murders can only change with the transformation of the police. “It cannot just be more patrols, more roadblocks. I am turning the TTPS into an intelligence-driven one,” Griffith said, adding that the ultimate barometer of a country’s crime status is homicide.

He said in every situation there will be some loopholes but the intention is to plug those loopholes to make the country safer. “I cannot reveal some of the intelligence-driven initiatives introduced to deal with murders, but I can assure the country that they will see some results,” he promised.

He said there had been a reduction every month for the past three months and his intention is to get back to “acceptable levels” of fewer than 150 murders a year, which was the case way back in 2000 and 2001. He recalled that in May, June and July this year homicides increased compared to last year: “about 17 per cent for May, 20-something per cent in June and 50-something per cent in July.” In August, there was a five per cent reduction in homicides, 23 per cent in September and for October, a 27 per cent reduction.

“So there has been a drastic reduction compared to last year when (the annual figure) was 495.”

He is “ fighting heavily now,” he said, “because we have a system which has not been the appropriate method to deal with curbing homicides.”

Griffith also said more intelligence-driven policing, as well as Tasers and pepper sprays, body cameras for police, the revamping of the E999 system, cameras in police vehicles, a new cold case unit, better customer training for police are among the policies which will help them and the country. Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran did not wish to comment yesterday on the spike in murders. He said it needed to be carefully analysed before any comment is made and promised to do so at a later date.

There has also been a re­cent an­nounce­ment of a new elite unit to tack­le white-col­lar crime in T&T and promis­es that the “Big Fish” will be ar­rest­ed and brought to jus­tice. Grif­fith is as­sur­ing that it will not be a unit en­gag­ing in witch-hunt.

The Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Di­vi­sion (FID) with sub­units from Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Bu­reau, Fraud Squad, Pro­fes­sion­al Stan­dards Bu­reau, el­e­ments of Or­gan­ised Crime In­tel­li­gence Unit, and Cy­ber Crime Unit will be merged to form the new unit to tackle white-collar crime. This unit is to en­sure a more ef­fec­tive arm of the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) to deal with such crimes and at a faster ba­sis.

It would al­so en­sure bet­ter shar­ing of da­ta be­tween these units and like­wise, be­tween TTPS and oth­er units in the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty.

Griffith said that he intends to ac­quire lo­cal and in­ter­na­tion­al ex­per­tise to im­prove the ca­pa­bil­i­ty of this di­vi­sion. He also plans to do a mas­sive in­jec­tion in our le­gal de­part­ment by ap­point­ing a head of the Le­gal De­part­ment and a few oth­ers to en­sure that TTPS tight­ens up to pre­vent any loop­holes that can be used by per­sons if charged, as well as an in­ter­na­tion­al pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al team to do like­wise.

Griffith states that while the TTPS is an independent body, they need to li­aise with dif­fer­ent ex­ter­nal agen­cies to max­imise our ef­fec­tive­ness, in­clu­sive of the NSC, Chief Jus­tice, DPP, PCA, and of­fice of the AG.