Police Commissioner Gary Griffith

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, whose contracted term ends in August, will be among the candidates to be considered by the Police Service Commission (PSC) when it begins the process to select a Commissioner for a new term.

Griffith is making himself available for a second term even though his three-year term, which started in August 2018, has taken a toll on his health and family.

Legal notice 183, dated last Thursday and signed by the secretary to Cabinet, confirmed the PSC’s Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Selection Process) Order 2021. This stated the process for appointments to the offices of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.

When that process is completed, the nominees listed by the PSC will be considered by the House of Representatives.

While Griffith isn’t commenting, sources very close to him confirmed that he will be among the nominees for Police Commissioner.

On September 10, 2016, Guardian Media broke the story that Griffith was offering himself for the position.

When the matter went before Parliament for debate in July 2018, the Government supported Griffith’s nomination.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described him as an exemplary candidate.

The Opposition abstained. Nobody voted against.

Griffith is credited with various achievements during his tenure, including a 30 per cent reduction in serious crimes in 2020 compared to 2019, the highest percentage reduction from one year to another in more than 30 years. That included a 25 per cent reduction in murders—the lowest rate in eight years.

A Gender-Based Violence Unit was launched in the T&T Police Service (TTPS) in 2020.

There was also a 38 per cent reduction in criminal gangs and membership in gangs declined by 58 per cent.

During his first year in the position, Griffith received an 81 per cent passing grade from the PSC.

However, Griffith has had clashes with the media, Prime Minister Rowley (over the police handling of a Bayshore pool party last year) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

A source close to the Commissioner said the rigours of the job, “working 20 hours daily, seven days, accessible to everyone” has taken a toll.

“Twice he was warded at St Clair Medical.

“His body crashed, blood pressure levels having skyrocketed at times. Before he was 110/70 and 53 beats a minute, healthy levels.

“Now those with agendas different to him have turned their guns at his family, more recently his son Gary III and his daughter, T’Shauna.’’

Death threats almost every week

Griffith’s wife, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, said: “I fully understand self-sacrifice is essential to leadership, as this family has been in the unique position for a number of years. Everything accompanying leadership positions impacts the family, good, bad or indifferent.

“When Gary became Commissioner, I was asked by a journalist, ‘Are you prepared for the impact on your family?’ I stated this wasn’t our first foray into public life, as such, we were as prepared as we could be.

“As I reflect, nothing could have prepared us for the extremes we faced every day. I’ve seen numerous lives positively impacted by Gary in his position, however, exactly how much is one expected to sacrifice?

”Not only has the role placed significant strain on the family, with the almost weekly new death threats, changes to some freedoms we take for granted, the constant monitoring, constant vigilance.

“But it’s also impacted in ways I really wouldn’t have imagined. Afraid? No. Over it? Definitely.

”One of these ways is the toll on Gary’s health, having been hospitalised twice.

“His health has been impacted in ways that would otherwise never have been an issue. Lack of basic human requirements of rest, sleep, nutrition, takes its toll.”

Dyer-Griffith said there have been recent character attacks on the family which “demonstrated the absolutely callous spectrum within which we operate.”

She added: ”Anyone who knows Gary, knows the contrived, concerted, concentrated attacks on the family will evoke a response from him, quite naturally but the intensity, really begs the question, is this worth it?

“The toll on this family, cannot be quantified, no amount of remuneration can buffer the impact and I can safely say, life goes on with or without it if that be God’s will.’’

The selection process

The June 17 legal notice states that the PSC will conduct a recruitment process, including inviting applications for the posts.

From the applications received the PSC will select the most suitable candidates for the assessment process. The candidates will be subjected to security and professional vetting.

The assessment includes a review of the candidate’s qualifications, a medical report and the security and professional vetting reports.

The also take into account all information on the candidates and compile an order of merit list

The names of the people listed on the order of merit list will be submitted to the President in accordance with the procedure set out in Section 123 of the Constitution.

When either the post of Commissioner of Police or Deputy Commissioner is vacant or is about to become vacant, the PSC may submit to the President a list of suitably qualified candidates from among the ranks of the TTPS, including those on contract, or previously on contract, as nominees to act in the positions pending the conclusion of the recruitment process.