Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has promised to launch “an immediate investigation” regarding police officers affiliated with political parties.
In a press release issued yesterday by the T&T Police Service, Griffith said when an officer joins the service he/she loses certain rights as a citizen.
Griffith said in light of information coming to his attention, inclusive of an article dated January 9, published in the Sunday Guardian he has launched an immediate investigation into the allegations of a serving police officer applying and being interviewed for a political post “and then being quoted in the media of openly expressing his support and allegiance to the principles of that said party.”
Without calling names, Griffith was referring to the Sunday Guardian’s front-page article headlined “Blanked by PNM” in which police officer Duane O’ Connor acknowledged that he was the candidate chosen to contest the St Ann’s River South seat in the December 2019 local government election and his candidacy rescinded. A voice in a 30-minute recording of a meeting from a PNM insider which the Sunday Guardian obtained stated that the Sea Lots community would not be comfortable with a policeman representing them in their community as they saw him as an “informer.”
The commissioner said any community or politicians who see “informants” as a source of concern can be seen as being part of the problem.
Griffith quoted section 139 of the Police Service act which stated that “an officer shall not make any public expression of political and sectarian opinions, and shall bear himself with strict impartiality in all matters.”
The commissioner said when a police officer swears to an oath they lose certain rights because at no time their actions and decisions must be seen as abusing their authority.
“If one wants to have such rights to freely express his/her political alliances, and even to officially join, support and represent any political party holding any political post, he/she must resign,” Griffith said.
Griffith said this was not the first time police officers have expressed their support for political parties. A few weeks ago, Griffith said he had to caution a police officer who openly showed support for one political party on social media.
Presently, Griffith said another investigation is ongoing of a police officer in Tobago who openly expressed his support for one political party and attempted to influence citizens to do likewise.
With the upcoming general elections this year, Griffith sounded a warning to all police officers not to breach the TTPS’s regulations.
Contacted yesterday, O’Connor said he did not read the article.
“I would have to say I have no comment on this matter at this time.”
Pressed further, O’Connor said he was “out of the entire situation because he had a death in the family.
“My aunt passed away. So I am still in and out of a lot of things right now.” (SH)