Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says the public is now engaging in something he calls reverse discrimination.
Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, Griffith said this practice is being used to pressure the police service to act outside of the law.
“This country has reached the point where we are reaching the point of reverse discrimination. This concept that we keep speaking about with the one per cent, there was no one per cent there. We are so desperate with this stupid line about this one per cent. This country is going into a serious sink and depression if we continue with this reverse discrimination,” Griffith said in reference to the use of the term to refer to the Syrian sector of the society.
Over the past week, there has been a national debate on whether the T&T Police Service should have taken sterner action against persons who were having a pool party at the upscale Bayside Towers in Cocorite in breach of the COVID-19 regulations on social gatherings.
Even Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley chastised the police service for their failure to charge anyone involved. He further instructed that the TTPS should uphold the law against anyone found in breach of COVID regulations regardless of race, class or social standing.
However, Griffith has maintained his officers cannot and will not breach the law by arresting people on private property when the health regulations do not allow this.
In seeking to further clarify what took place when officers went to Bayside Towers, Griffith yesterday said the photo making rounds on social media with approximately 12 people is not what they met. He said the police met about six people scattered around a pool when they arrived on the scene. He said the police used moral suasion, which it has also been doing in all other similar instances.
Griffith said the only time charges were laid against anyone on private property was during a party at a residence in Valsayn, because on that occasion the home was rented out for a party and the police obtained information and a warrant.
He said the police position on the law remains the same and this was acknowledged by the Prime Minister, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and National Security Minister Stuart Young during a meeting on Monday.
“The prime minister and I, we met, it was a very amicable meeting and we all agreed that exactly what I said from the start is accurate.”
He insisted, however, that he and the Government are now on the “same page” in the fight against COVID-19. However, he cautioned that the perception of political interference in the work of the police is troubling.
Griffith said as commissioner, he will continue to do his job without any interference and will not be “bullied” into doing anything that is illegal.
“I don’t need a wuk (sic),” he said.
He also sought to clear the air on reports that he has been asked to attend a meeting by the Police Service Commission (PSC) as a result of this ongoing situation.
“Again bacchanal and propaganda, the Police Service Commission has not called me to a meeting.”
He said what was reported in a daily newspaper was information received from a previous member of the PSC.
“Those members do not have a moral authority to speak,” he added.
As it relates to homeless people in San Fernando being ticketed for not wearing masks over the weekend, Griffith said his information was that several of the people who were fined had actual addresses and access to money. However, he said there may have been a shortcoming on the part of the officers and he will go to court to rectify the situation for anyone who is actually homeless and was fined.
He said the police now have to be aware that some people may claim homelessness to get away from being ticketed for not wearing masks in public. He disclosed that as at Sunday, the number of people fined for not wearing masks stood at 259.