Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has gone to Ireland on vacation embracing Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley comments about rogue elements in the T&T Police Service and other protectives agencies linked to the Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) investigation and a plan to bring in help from Barbados and the United Kingdom for the probe.
Reacting to Rowley’s decision to invite foreign investigators to help with the case, Griffith, who will be on vacation until November 1, yesterday told Guardian Media, “I welcome the opportunity of what the Prime Minister has done. It would assist me greatly in trying to weed out exactly the rogue elements that have been involved in this situation.
“I have already started the action by suspending certain police officers, reassigning others and we will continue the investigation to verify if it is much more than disciplinary matters that should take place internally within the police service and if criminal charges can be laid.”
During a meeting post-Budget virtual meeting in Belmont on Thursday, Rowley said he was disturbed by the allegations of corruption levelled against police officers and other law enforcement members named in the DSS matter. He said this was the reason why he felt foreign assistance was necessary.
Griffith, who had ordered the suspension of four officers and transfer of 11 others earlier on Thursday, said the foreign officers will be sworn in as Special Reserve Police on arrival and will have the powers of the TTPS officers.
According to information obtained by Guardian Media, the suspended officers were an acting assistant superintendent, acting inspector, acting corporal and a constable. All of them were allegedly involved in providing paid protection to the DSS members and also allegedly had a hand in allowing the purported $22 million that was seized by officers in the September 22 raid on the DSS base to be released back into the hands of CEO Kerron Clarke—without proper checks done to verify the source of the funds.
Griffith agreed with Rowley that this matter was of paramount importance when it came to national security in the country.
“This is a matter of national security concern and the Prime Minister is the chair of the National Security Council. So, this matter is far greater than just a concern as it pertains to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service,” he said.
“This goes straight into possible rogue elements in the protective services. It has been very difficult for me in this investigation because it’s obvious there have been Trojan horses within the police service that have affected this investigation. We have numerous reports of police officers who are still in the service, they continue to interfere and make it difficult for this investigation to proceed. Obviously, it seems people are using their position to cover tracks.”
In a subsequent release, Griffith said having external investigators could ensure a strong degree of transparency. He said he had selected a special team of officers he can trust to work alongside the international investigators to deal with any possible rogue elements in the TTPS and to pinpoint persons outside the Police Service who may be committing serious criminal activity via the DSS.
Over the last few weeks, Guardian Media had reported exclusively about the alleged police and army involvement in facilitating the DSS operations over a period of time and of officers and soldiers collecting protection money for their services.