Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s decision to cancel his vacation in the face of mounting damning information on the bungled Drugs Sou Sou raid, shows he now truly understands the magnitude of the scenario.
Given what is already in the public domain about it and what is expected to come following the detention of four soldiers involved in the matter on Wednesday, Griffith must now ensure the probes are completed swiftly to appease public discomfort over it.
However, given his closeness to the Special Organised Response Team (SORT), the main unit involved in the raid, it is advisable he designate main oversight to DCP Mc Donald Jacob.
And one of DCP Jacob’s first actions should be to suspend the TTPS officers directly involved in the incident pending the completion of the probes. This should include officers on duty at the La Horquetta station, where the seized money – now purported to have been as much as $92 million – was taken, since some of those officers are accused of conspiring to return the cash to DSS CEO Kerron Clarke without authority.
Then there are officers named as being part of the DSS operations who allegedly co-opted colleagues to return the seized cash before it was fully processed and accounted for. These officers, including a highly-ranked senior, are further accused of accepting an $18 million bribe to deliberately bungle the operation and withholding information on what transpired from CoP Griffith.
Now that four soldiers have been detained in the matter, the T&T Defence Force too must expedite its probe against members accused of being part of the DSS set up and of transporting the returned cash to safe locations to avoid its further seizure by police. Finally, the soldier caught on tape stuffing money into his uniform during the raid should long have been on suspension as the probes go on.
There are also questions about how the raid was conducted. Why was no warrant obtained after officers realised there were millions at the DSS headquarters, supposedly after they went in the first instance to deal with a COVID-19 health breach? More importantly, why, if CoP Griffith felt officers of the La Horquetta station should be kept out of the raid due to their possible involvement in DSS, did he allow the money to be kept at the same station after it was seized?
We are fully aware that the accused are innocent until proven otherwise. However, it would be foolhardy not to note that what occurred is the result of systemic corruption within the service. That DSS members allegedly felt emboldened enough to cut such a deal suggests they had a strong enough relationship with officers to know it would succeed.
With the internal resistance he has received thus far, let us hope Commissioner Griffith takes our advice and appoints DCP Jacob to oversee the probes that will hopefully bring those culpable to justice and help the TTPS recover from this latest stain.