Dr Bishnu Ragoonath

While the decision on whether he is reappointed lies exclusively with the Police Service Commission (PSC), Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has gotten a thumb’s up for his performance in office by some.

Griffith’s three-year contractual term comes to an end in August and sources close to him say he is close to finalising whether he will reapply for the job.

Speaking with Guardian Media on the Cop’s tenure, however, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said he has brought some sort of stability to the Police Service and that is something T&T is thankful for.

“We have seen some reduction but not as much as we would like to have seen in the issue of crime and in the issue of detection, but the fact is he has tried and has succeeded to some extent in having some accomplishment and for that, he could be considered and should be considered for a second term,” Ragoonath said.

The Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce (GSFCC) is meanwhile supporting Griffith for a second term in office.

Under Griffith’s leadership, GSFCC president Kiran Singh said there has been a significant decrease in murders and serious crimes; many breakthroughs in criminal activities within gangs and the service has become more technological driven in terms of using drones and body cameras.

Additionally, Singh said Griffith has raised the morale of officers and restored pride within the TTPS.

“Under his leadership, corrupt elements within the service have been rooted out and public confidence in the TTPS has been restored to a large extent. It has been statistically proven that as commercial activity decreases, criminal activity increases. However, during this pandemic, we have seen that crime has remained at bay. The Chamber gives credit to Commissioner Griffith and the tenacity with which he has guided law enforcement in these unprecedented times.”

Griffith, he said, has also given the business community a stronger sense of security by expediting the approval of Firearm Users Licenses to business owners.

Meanwhile, former PSC chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran said it is quite reasonable for Griffith to reapply.

“It will be interesting to see who are the other candidates coming up for the merit list – how their qualifications, skills and recorded performance match those of Mr Griffith. In fact, it will help transparency and public confidence if the PSC publishes the criteria used for its merit list, whether they are by law or by other assessment instruments,” Deosaran told Guardian Media.

“As we have seen in the last few years, policing has changed a lot and traditional law enforcement needs serious adjustments, especially in crime prevention, measuring police performance, building public confidence and trust.”

Commenting on the proposed amendment to the Police Service Commission (PSC) by Legal Notice 183, Deosaran said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and the Government’s move to cut off the use of an expensive foreign firm to participate in the assessment procedures is also a step in the right direction. Previously, he said, the private firm and its ancillary expenses have cost this country some $3 million.

“But as a former chairman of the PSC, I can say there is more to be done in order to make the PSC more efficient and effective. For example, the PSC faces a complicated administrative bureaucracy, especially in funding for advertisements, assessment surveys, which are critical for undertaking a fair and reliable assessment of the CoP and DCoP,” he said.

“The lawful body to assess the CoP and DCoP is the PSC. In fact, if the PSC methodology seems to be unreliable or deficient, this could be unfair to the CoP, police service and public.”

Another political analyst, Dr Maukesh Basdeo, said Griffith had made significant inroads during his tenure.

“He has made changes to the operationalisation of the Police Service. One has to understand that of his time serving as Commissioner of Police we had the COVID pandemic, so we had approximately from March last year, a lot of the regulations had actually occurred. So it’s interesting to see how the executive will be able to actually rate his performance for these three years.” Using a scale from one to ten, he rated Griffith’s performance as seven. However, he said a second term is necessary to really determine how effective Griffith would have been in office.

However, San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett says if he Griffith is offering himself again, one can look at what he has done to bring down the crime level.

“We have many ills in our society and we need to address it head-on. For example, the protection of our borders has been our perennial problem not only for guns and ammunition but entry of illegal immigrants,” Bartlett said.

“It was confirmed by our Minister of Health that the Brazilian variant of the COVID-19 virus was brought in by an illegal immigrant. You see how disastrous that has been.”

Noting that the borders have been locked down for a year and three months, she said citizens should have been allowed to come home in a controlled way. While some countries in the Caribbean are now opening up to visitors, she said T&T is trembling with fright.

“The Ministry of National Security and the Commissioner of Police need to work hand in hand to bring law and order to our country. It cannot be a free for all. The job of the CoP is very important in doing so. We wish him well if he decides to offer himself for a second term.”