Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has apologised to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley over the public spat he had with him over the Bayside Towers pool party several weeks ago.
Speaking at the T&T Police Service’s weekly media briefing yesterday, Griffith said he felt his apology was necessary.
“That is how I was trained, if it is I am wrong, I am wrong,”
Griffith said in reference to the apparent feud he had with Rowley after the PM called on the police to treat all citizens equally regarding enforcement of the public health regulations.
He said he has a very strong degree of passion to serve his country, its citizens and police officers but on this occasion, his approach may not have been advisable.
“Even though what I said was accurate, it was no way appropriate for me to make such comment which could allude to the comments made to the PM. Since then I have written to the PM officially and I have apologised and wish to take (this moment) and let the public know that I do apologise for the comments that I would have made,” Griffith said.
“Something people forget is that GG is human and he can make mistakes. But it means that every single day I am being monitored and scrutinised and at times someone can be frustrated and tired. Because of my strong degree of passion to help, it puts me in situations to get me in trouble.”
The PM’s comment came after police failed to charge anyone for a health regulation breach after showing up at Bayside Towers in Cocorite following complaints of a birthday pool party. But in response, Griffith challenged the PM, saying the law did not allow police to charge people in their private residences and adding the PM did not raise similar concern when a group of Sea Lots residents were also released without charge for a similar infringement.
Addressing this directly, Griffith said, “When this started in April and I made that press release to state do not feel because you were in private property we cannot do anything (clarifying once again on arrest and charge), even though what I said was required … and even though it was the correct thing, how you speak is even more important because even though the message was accurate, it was lost because of how I spoke and how I said it.
“Again, it was because of my strong degree of passion … that is no excuse, it is totally unacceptable and I apologise to the country for the comments I made. I was not asked to send any letter or apology…but again I do apologise to the country for my actions and I do apologise to the PM.”
However, he noted that the public also seemed to be suggesting the police were giving one sector of the society preferential treatment, which was not true.
“On that occasion, based on how the media perceived what the PM said, as you would have seen on the front pages, it gave the impression that the PM pull up Gary, that the TTPS is not doing their job and are profiling persons and again for me to get into the conversation, let me clarify once and for all…T&T is not a state of the US and many people feel so and when they see what happens in the US they feel we are an arm of the US. So we have this situation of police violence and abuse and only targeting one group. I actually did a check of my 8,000 police officers and none of us are white,” he said.
“So first thing is let’s clarify this. No police officer goes out of their way to target any particular group and leave any other group. We have nothing to gain by this.
“I myself actually arrested and charged a family member in Westmoorings a few months ago, so no one is above the law…So if there is a perception that the police is only targeting certain persons, I took that hurt even though I know it is not true, but that is what the perception the media had based on what the PM stated. Likewise, there is the perception that if you were partying we could have arrested you. Again, with my oath to office, I have to make sure the constitutional rights of the citizens are not infringed.”