Acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says while he cannot legally make vaccinations for police officers mandatory, he intends to do whatever he can to try to convince officers to get inoculated.
At a press conference at the Police Administration Building, in Port-of-Spain yesterday, the acting Commissioner said he plans to do a heavy campaign to influence police officers.
At present, he said, around 45 per cent of the service is vaccinated but he hoped to get the number closer to 75 per cent.
“What I can do is find certain avenues to ensure police officers, who are not vaccinated, as much as possible try to remove them from being on the frontline. It might affect their salary. It may affect their overtime. It may affect them getting a special allowance,” Griffith said.
“Police officers, as much as they are police officers, are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. I have to ensure that they have their rights. What I’m hoping for is that good sense will prevail.”
According to Griffith, police officers must understand that being on the frontline puts them at higher risk of infection.
He said if the officers did not want to take the vaccine to potentially save their own lives, they should do so to save the lives of friends and relatives.
Meanwhile, Griffith expressed confidence in being reappointed as Police Commissioner on a permanent basis.
The Police Service Commission’s selection process is ongoing and he is currently serving as acting commissioner until a final decision is made by the commission.
He said just like he beat out competition three years ago to land the post for his first term, he will do the same for a second term.
“They could come with false, misleading, dangerous lies because their panic is not going to help anything…Whatever happens in the near future, whatever happens, and based on my performance, I’ll be back,” he said.
Griffith lambasted his critics, saying they were willing to resort to anything to prevent him from serving another three years in the position.
“Now they’ve even reached a point where they even attack the credibility of members of the Police Service Commission. That is how nasty they are. Then I realized why. What it is. I realize what the fear factor is. The fear factor is Gary Griffith,” he said.
He also sought to remind the public that he remains in charge, even though he’s acting at this time.
“My appointment is Acting Commissioner of Police, but that is just one word. Unlike other persons before me who probably tried to use that as an excuse not to perform, I have the same authority. I have the same responsibility and I am in command of the TTPS,” Griffith insisted.
At the press conference, Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said the investigation into the murder of five men from Race Course Road in Carapo is still in its early stages.
Lamenting the number of lives lost, he said the homicide department and other supporting units are conducting the investigation.
“It is obvious I cannot tell you about leads and the manner in which the investigation is going now. It is in the early stages, so it will not be wise. It’s an active investigation going on, so very soon, you will get some measure of outcome, but we are pushing forward to try our best to solve such a heinous act,” Jacob said.
Avinash Sookraj, Jimmy Poon, Russell Poon, Ryan Sookraj and Radesh Pooran were all shot dead in Carapo at around 4 pm on Saturday.
The men told relatives they were going fishing earlier in the day.