Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith address members of the media during the police press conference held yesterday at Police Administration Building corner Edward and Sackville Streets, Port-of-Spain.

Mark Bassant

A $50 million burden is being placed on the pockets of taxpayers every year for 300 police officers who are currently suspended.

The revelation was made by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith while speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service(TTPS) media conference yesterday in which he addressed several pressing matters affecting the TTPS.

Griffith said this was an unfair practice that needed to be scrutinized.

“For the average citizen in this country in any business in the private sector if you are in prison for a violent crime you will be fired. Not in Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, they say no! a police officer leave him and let him get his pay. So we have $50 million per annum taxpayers are paying for the police out there on disciplinary matters. I have a problem with that.”

This problem, according to Griffith must be tackled head-on, “It is unfair to the police service because it gives the impression that I have 300 officers that are not there and it’s also unfair to many of the officers who may have been on suspension for over a decade for a situation that they should have been on suspension for a few months, that is unfair to everyone.”

The Commissioner of Police held no punches back, indicating there were rogue officers although in the minority trying to tarnish the image of the majority of hard-working police officers. He briefly spoke of those that violated the policies of the TTPS and then hid behind the legal walls by issuing court action.

“For you to deal with a problem you do not hide I am admitting there is a problem,” Griffith said.

Head of the TTPS Legal Unit, Christian Chandler added clarity to the Commissioner’s statements stating that the “corrupt and indisciplined officers,” were afraid of change. “Part of that change we advocation and pushing forward with is legislative reform as it pertains to the Police Service Act and the Special Reserve Police Act. We are recommending sweeping reforms to parliament,” Chandler explained.

Commissioner of Police also spent time giving his critics a tongue lashing for not supporting his stance on amending the Bail Amendment Number Two Bill in which he is asking that firearms offenders be denied bail for 120 days.

Holding a pistol in his left hand and a high powered rifle in his right hand while standing he told the media, “This here is no bail(pointing to the pistol )This bail(motioning to the rifle) You have this weapon(raises rifle again) and you are now saying the person must have bail. Six years before this weapon(pistol) where was no bail.”

High powered weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47 Griffith said was now becoming the popular weapon of choice for criminals.

Referred to statistics from the TTPS Griffith said the number of high powered weapons seized over the last two years by the police had risen. He pointed out that there was a 50 per cent reduction in shootings and woundings compared to last year, but Griffith said this did not translate to a 50 per cent reduction in homicides. Rather he said the fewer shootings had deadlier consequences because these high powered weapons were being used.

Acting DCP for Operations at the TTPS Jayson Forde made a chilling revelation when he recounted a story he had with a criminal about his preference to use this kind of weapon. “He told me chief when you squeeze the trigger from a pistol one shot go off, when you hear a rifle go off its ratatat! One squeeze chief and everyone falls flat,” Forde said.

DCP Forde said that those in authority needed to take the necessary steps to ensure that criminals who brandish these types of weapons have their freedom curtailed.