A CALL TO DUTY

143

under Gary’’s watch there is hope again

OPINION

Finally, we have a Com­missioner of Police whose actions continue to re­mind us that no one is above the law.

Ever since his occupancy in that troubled position, citizens have begun to have hope once again and actually believe that the Mr. Bigs in our society would no lon­ger enjoy the immunity which ap­parently was being given to them by the men and women tasked to protect and serve the citizens in our country.
And I am not even speaking about Gary Griffith’s impressive record in the fight against crime or the statistics, whether real or unreal, that are being bandied about by the police.
My observation is based on what seems to be an honest ap­proach to rid this country of mis­creants regardless where they live and who they are and Griffith’s approach to fight back for the lit­tle people of this country.
There was a time not too long ago that gang leaders demonstrat­ed a sense of bravado within their communities. These were the untouchables, the men, and yes, even women who dared to disrupt our peace.
These groups savagely poached upon our sons, desecrated our daughters, rendered parents im­potent to guide their own children and it seemed as though there was no one in the Government or within law and order who was committed enough to end their reign of terror.
Drug blocks, though still a fea­ture of our decadent social land­scape, were more prevalent. The sight of young men carrying guns in the communities had become a norm especially in at-risk com­munities.
The failure of the police to re­spond where innocent citizens cried out for help is now dimin­ishing. And while all is not per­fect, while the murder rate is still way too high, there is a turn in the tide with Gary Griffith instill­ing a sense of fear among those who seek to paralyze us. And this is most certainly comforting as it offers the hope of return­ing Trinidad and Tobago into the hands of those whose interest is still in cultivating a law abiding
society.

Refrain from impugning the character of the Attorney General

If anyone may have missed it , the national enquiry into the pos­session of illegal and prohibited arms by children of a Minister of Government is not being swept under the carpet.
The facts are not clear and read­ers should be guided to refrain from impugning the character of the Attorney General since the circumstances under which the possession may have occurred may have had nothing to do with him and may possibly have been an act of legitimacy.
To pronounce prematurely and pass judgment, may not be the smartest thing to do.
But not too long ago, this would have been swept under the carpet. The powerful figures involved in this incident would have joined forces together to crush any in­vestigation and the evidence col­lected would have simply disap­peared while this sad story would have died a natural death.
But not under the stewardship of Gary Griffith whose approach has been to shut all these “gates” which the previous Commission­er of Police had left open; to bring to justice anyone who is found culpable once these investiga­tions are completed and to hold everyone accountable for the role they allegedly played in each of the incidents that he met when he arrived at the Office.
In this case, his demand for in­formation puts the Defence Force and the Police once again at log­gerheads since it seems to be the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff that is holding up these in­vestigations.

Something is amiss within the Defence Force

Now the history of this matter so far suggests that something is amiss within the Defence Force. For it is on record that one Chief of Defence Staff placed the blame squarely on his predecessor who came out in full defence of his stewardship and even threatened to sue for what he considered the defamation of his character.
Now the fact is that if the Of­fice of the Chief of Defence Staff is wrangling concerning this mat­ter then all cannot be well. Some­thing is amiss and it is incumbent on that Office to clear the air by providing information regarding the enquiry which was held con­cerning this irregularity at Camp Cumuto.
The Commissioner of Police has stated that this is not the first time that his office has made the request to the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff for information and the frustration of receiving no response from an arm of law enforcement has resulted in the Commissioner laying threats to treat decisively with the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff if once again it fails to comply.
Now I am having some diffi­culty here in trying to understand why it is taking so long for the Of­fice of the Chief of Defence Staff to respond.
After all, the alleged wrong was conducted on the grounds of the Defence Force at Camp Cumuto under what we heard were the watchful eyes of members of the Defence Force.
Somebody gave these children permission to carry these guns and most certainly it is not their father Faris al Rawi because he has no locus standi to so authorise or so approve.
It is of concern because it raises questions concerning whether this is a service that is normally provided by the Defence Force which in this case they got caught because someone displayed the type of indiscretion to photograph the young children. And probably had it not been for this photo­graph, the practice may have con­tinued but all this took place on the grounds of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.

All that the Commissioner of Police needs to know

The Chief of Defence Staff has jurisdiction over these grounds and it is clear that an enquiry took place to determine who gave permission for these children to have custody of these weapons and clearly that is all that the Commissioner of Police needs to
know.
Just maybe if the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff was forth­right in its response, this matter would have already been settled. But the fact that the veil of secre­cy is yet to be lifted suggests that there is more in the mortar than the pestle.
Maybe we need the Office of the President of our Republic to intervene as the ceremonial Head of the Defence Force and the one to whom the Defence Force an­swers.
For me, this is more critical and important than guests to functions hosted by her and the relationship of their spouses because the im­pact of this on the national com­munity is not just important but critical.

It does not matter where you live

Her intervention would be timely because it has the potential to defuse a war between the Po­lice and the Army that is alluded to in narratives surrounding the request. And the last thing that this nation wants is its two major arms of law en­forcement war­ring against each other even if it is a cold war.
But what gives this nation hope is that we have a Commissioner of Police whose fearlessness in taking up our fight gives us a sense of courage.
We are now appreciating that it does not matter where you live, what the colour of your skin may be, what the texture of your hair is, what geographic space you live in whether it be Laventille or West­moorings once you run afoul of the law our Comish will seek you out.
For once, talk about no one is above the law seems to be real in Trinidad and Tobago.
And we wish to thank our Com­missioner of Police for allowing us to repose that confidence in our institutions and allowing us to dream that Trinidad and Tobago again will be the place where our children’s laughter will be heard, the blood of our sons and daugh­ters no longer will flow on our streets and law and order will be the norm of every day.