Trinidad’s Gary Griffiths Not About Fancy Chat, He Gets Results…

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The fight against dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals and the harm they do to soci­ety is an all hands on deck affair. Tragically, and to the detri­ment of the coun­try, this effort has been seen as pure­ly a polic­ing issue in Jamaica.
The (infama fi ded), [informer should die] mantra is a tes­ta­ment of the side that pop cul­ture has tak­en in this fight, per­son­i­fied and exem­pli­fied in the dance­halls.
The aver­age Jamaican cit­i­zen was not always opposed to giv­ing infor­ma­tion to the author­i­ties which would aid in the appre­hen­sion of dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals. However, as the cul­ture shift­ed, and cor­rup­tion and crim­i­nal­i­ty became more main­stream, soo too has cit­i­zens balked at pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion to the author­i­ties.

The tragedy inher­ent in Jamaica’s case, and I dare­say in oth­er areas of the Caribbean, is that there are stub­born resid­ual ves­tiges of the colo­nial past which refus­es to let go of old habits and think­ing.
In the case of Trinidad and Tobago for exam­ple, though the nation moved toward self-auton­o­my and offi­cial­ly became a repub­lic on August 1st, 1976, some of the old think­ing still remains as I will get to lat­er.

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Gary Griffiths not about pre­tense a cop who gets the job done.

In Jamaica, one of the most intran­si­gent stum­bling block to deal­ing effec­tive­ly with the scourge of crim­i­nal­i­ty as it has been in Trinidad and Tobago, has been a Judiciary which is hell-bent on act­ing as a social work­force.
Nowhere is the judi­cia­ry more adamant that it is impor­tant to have an inde­pen­dent judi­cia­ry than in Jamaica.
However, the local judi­cia­ry seems to believe that inde­pen­dence is syn­ony­mous with, answer­able to no one.
When the judi­cia­ry, like the elect­ed gov­ern­ment, begins to, or has act­ed in a way that is anti­thet­i­cal to the good of the coun­try, then it becomes nec­es­sary to change the way they are allowed to oper­ate.
We do that by cod­i­fy­ing into law cer­tain changes to the lat­i­tude that was allowed the judi­cia­ry, (eg) truth in sen­tenc­ing.
This means that what­ev­er sen­tence was hand­ed down at tri­al for vio­lent offend­ers is what they serve.
We also should cod­i­fy into law the sen­tences which should be hand­ed down for cer­tain vio­lent cat­e­gories of crimes.
Bail should also be revis­it­ed as it relates to vio­lent offend­ers who maim and kill.
It is brain-dead and pro­fuse­ly igno­rant to argue about guar­an­tees with­in a con­sti­tu­tion writ­ten over 57) years ago, when most of the issues affect­ing us today did not exist then.

The core issue of (Bail) or whether courts grant them, are crit­i­cal to the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and to law enforce­ment.
If bail is grant­ed arbi­trar­i­ly as it has been in Jamaica’s case, it endan­gers wit­ness­es, destroys pros­e­cu­tors cas­es, frus­trates inves­ti­ga­tors, and ulti­mate­ly thwarts the process of jus­tice.
None of which seems to make any dif­fer­ence to the Jamaican judi­cia­ry and their chief cheer-lead­ers in the crim­i­nal defense pro­fes­sion.
And so the [peo­ple’s case], as all cas­es are, it becomes sole­ly the pre­rog­a­tive of the police and a few ded­i­cat­ed pros­e­cu­tors to pro­tect the peo­ple’s inter­est.
Jamaican judges seem to feel no oblig­a­tion to the [peo­ple] who pay their salaries, or about the detri­men­tal con­se­quences of their indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive actions on the soci­ety.

Though Trinidad & Tobago’s pop­u­la­tion is rough­ly half of Jamaica’s, and though Trinidad is arguably a rich coun­try, with oil and gas deposits and a vibrant man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. The coun­try over the last two decades or so has been plagued with a seri­ous gang prob­lem.
Murders have moved from rough­ly one hun­dred per year to over five-hun­dred per year.
An over four hun­dred per­cent increase in just fif­teen years.
As it is in Jamaica many of the char­ac­ter­is­tics which fac­tor into the exis­tence and enhance­ment of this cri­sis are the same.
Corrupt politi­cians who fun­nel mon­ey to their cohorts for gov­ern­ment projects. Warring gangs fight­ing for turf. The gangs get their pow­er from dirty politi­cians for whom they do favors, and are reward­ed with lucra­tive gov­ern­ment con­tracts.
Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago are only sev­en miles from Venezuela a major drug trans-ship­ment hub of drugs from Colombia to West Africa and oth­er des­ti­na­tions.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties between Jamaica and Trinidad are almost sur­re­al. in Trinidad, as in Jamaica, entire com­mu­ni­ties live in fear, in some instances, homes are aban­doned, oth­ers are set on fire, and even oth­ers are pot-marked with bul­let holes as rival gangs duel it out against each oth­er.
Activists argue that the rot is not out­side the pow­er of the gov­ern­ment to stop the mad­ness, they say the secu­ri­ty mea­sures and laws are not enough to make a dif­fer­ence.
The brunt of the pres­sure is on the Police depart­ment, a force which has been.….….….….….….….….get this, accused of extra-judi­cial killings, and over­ly aggres­sive tac­tics.
These are the exact bul­let points used in Jamaica, ( a)demonize the police and (b) get on with the busi­ness of cor­rupt gov­er­nance. Because of course, the pop­u­la­tion is too dunce on the one hand, and too pre­ten­tious on the oth­er to under­stand it.

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Enter Trinidad’s police Commissioner Gary Griffiths, a for­mer mil­i­tary cap­tain, for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, for­mer min­is­ter of nation­al secu­ri­ty.
The résumé of com­mis­sion­er Griffiths reads almost ver­ba­tim like that of Jamaica’s Antony Anderson.
Griffith’s résumé details that he received a Meritorious medal for duties per­formed dur­ing the 1990 attempt­ed coup in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
A leader who is unafraid to step in the mud and take the crit­i­cisms of the know-noth­ing Monday morn­ing quar­ter­backs, who crit­i­cizes every­thing, but has con­tributed noth­ing.
And maybe that is the dif­fer­ence between Griffiths and Jamaican police com­mis­sion­ers past and present…
Griffiths is unafraid, unde­terred or unbowed by the cor­rupt politi­cians in his coun­try. He is unmoved by the crim­i­nal lawyers, who he labels [lawyer-crim­i­nals], who are active cheer-lead­ers to the judges and mag­is­trates who return the dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals to the streets as soon as the police arrest them.

In blast­ing a mag­is­trate who recent­ly released a gang­ster arrest­ed with mul­ti­ple ille­gal weapons, com­mis­sion­er Griffiths allud­ed to the rights and duty of lawyers to defend their clients.
Nevertheless, he poignant­ly assailed the lawyer-crim­i­nals who oper­ate out­side the laws, all while doing so as offi­cers of the courts.
This has been the trade­craft of Jamaica’s crim­i­nal lawyers, or should I say Jamaica’s [lawyer-crim­i­nas] as well?
Griffiths pulled no punch­es in respond­ing to a reporter’s ques­tion about lawyers who on tele­vi­sion ques­tioned his right to speak out against the mag­is­trate.
This is the kind of pre­his­toric medieval wall, that Caribbean mag­is­trates and judges oper­ate under as pub­lic ser­vants, not elect­ed by the peo­ple, but with a belief that they are immune from crit­i­cisms. In Jamaica, this non­sen­si­cal notion exists on steroids.
However, if you take a salary from the pub­lic, you are not immune to, or shield­ed from ques­tions and account­abil­i­ty to the pub­lic.
Judges across the region are quick to say they can­not respond to the crit­i­cisms lev­eled against them, but they are quite hap­py to have the crim­i­nal lawyers who ben­e­fit from their abuse of the process defend them in the media pro-bono.

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Gary Griffiths

One of the dif­fer­ences of the Trinidadian sys­tem from Jamaica’s, is that the police ser­vices in their repub­li­can democ­ra­cy are not sub­ju­gat­ed to, or answer­able to the Ministry of nation­al secu­ri­ty, and by exten­sion the rul­ing polit­i­cal par­ty.
It is that inde­pen­dence that allows Gary Griffiths to speak and oper­ate with such con­fi­dence and auton­o­my as opposed to Jamaica’s lit­tle pup­pet police lead­er­ship, which are shit scared of the dirty politi­cians and their sup­port­ers who are still stuck in the colo­nial­ist mind­set.
Gary Griffiths allud­ed to receiv­ing dai­ly death threats, he does not seem to mind them, he has a task to com­plete. The noise from the peanut gallery of well-con­nect­ed crim­i­nals in high places Griffiths brush­es aside, and warned, no one is above the law.
Jamaica’s offi­cials are far too com­pro­mised and con­flict­ed with process and form, to mat­ter in this exis­ten­tial fight.
Gary Griffiths gets it.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police Detective cor­po­ral, a busi­ness own­er, avid researcher, and blog­ger. 
He is a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. 
He’s also a con­trib­u­tor to sev­er­al web­sites.
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