Black Immigrant Daily News
Acting Police Commissioner Erla Christopher. Photo by Sureash Cholai
FORMER police commissioner Gary Griffith is calling on the citizens to support the top candidate for the post of Police Commissioner, Erla Christopher.
In a three-minute, 21-second video, Griffith advised Christopher not to be politically swayed, if selected.
“Christopher’s role is more pivotal to our collective future. I want to encourage the soon to be commissioner to resist being used as a political pawn in anyone’s games and to remember her oath in office is to be of service to the people of TT and not to be politically motivated or controlled even if it costs you the post of commissioner.”
Griffith, leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA), re-applied for the position to be top cop last year after a previous battle for police commissioner was cancelled. During his tenure, Griffith and the Prime Minister had a public fallout with Dr Rowley saying he had lost confidence in him. It was understood that Rowley would use his veto powers not to select Griffith had he been selected.
Gary Griffith, National Transformation Alliance leader.
In his video, Griffith said he reapplied knowing that the process would be manipulated so that “one man” can get a desired outcome.
“I reapplied simply to expose the dictatorship that exists in this country because of a flawed, easily manipulated constitution.”
He added that Christopher should look within the rank and file of the police service for some of the finest officers for her support. While admitting that the system is flawed, Griffith encouraged the citizens to support Christopher.
Christopher was the top pick by the Police Service Commissioner (PSC) after the process began in 2021. The PSC promised to complete its merit list by the end of January and on Monday submitted a merit list to the Office of the President. On Friday Parliament will vote on whether or not Christopher will receive the nod for the top cop.
Christopher, who turns 60 in May, will need government’s extension for a year, if she is selected. The Police Service Act mandates that first division officers retire at 60 and allows Cabinet to approve three one-year extensions once the officer reaches retirement age. If appointed Christopher will need the three extensions if she is to complete the contract of approved as the next Police Commissioner.
The selection of a top cop was marred with political interference and saw the collapse of the PSC under the leadership of Bliss Seepersad. Seepersad and her team completed their list and it was discarded by a new PSC, led by retired Appeal Court judge Judith Jones, who were appointed in November 2021.
In August, that year, Seepersad submitted a merit list to the President and withdrew it after Rowley met with her and gave her a confidential report that raised concern about the granting of firearm user’s licences under Griffith’s tenure.
Griffith, who was acting top cop at the time, was also suspended by Seepersad without the PSC members’ knowledge leading to an exodus until the board collapsed.
In January, 2022, Jones began a new process to select a police commissioner, which Christopher topped. She was triumphant over the likes of ACP Andre Norton, Lt Col Sheldon Ramanan, a former chief legal officer of the Defence Force; and Jason Francis, senior policy adviser at the UN’s Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, former head of the police Social and Welfare Association Snr Supt Anand Ramesar, Griffith and retired DCP McDonald Jacob.
With his hopes of returning to the police now officially dashed, Griffith said his new aim is to protect the country from a political standpoint.
“I am even more encouraged and determined as my new political mission is now fully possible,” Griffith said adding that he has served the country as a commissioned officer in the Defence Force, a national security adviser, then national security minister and lastly commissioner of police.
“Now, help me to help you by having me serve you in government in the next two years, which is why I ask you to stand with me and do what is required to remove this government democratically. I assure you, when we are in government, you are going to see the massive turnaround in crime you experienced prior to me demitting office as commissioner of police.
He said safety and security of the country is paramount and he and his party will transform the “beautiful and badly ailing nation.”
“I ask you to believe and be prepared to battle politically and democratically.”