485 murders recorded under Gary’s watch

Un­der Gary Grif­fith’s tenure as Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er so far, an es­ti­mat­ed 485 peo­ple have been mur­dered.

 

In this coun­try’s his­to­ry, the mur­der toll in a cal­en­dar year has on­ly ever crossed the 475 mark on four oc­ca­sions.

And there are still more than two weeks left un­til Grif­fith cel­e­brates his first an­niver­sary as Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er.

With the cur­rent rate of blood­let­ting tak­ing place in the coun­try, it is not im­prob­a­ble that 500 mur­ders can be record­ed un­der Grif­fith’s first year in of­fice.

Grif­fith took the oath of of­fice as this coun­try’s sub­stan­tive Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er on Au­gust 17 last year when the mur­der toll was around 345.

 

Last year, even­tu­al­ly end­ed with 517 mur­ders, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vices’ Crime and Prob­lem Analy­sis (CA­PA) branch.

It is this coun­try’s sec­ond-high­est mur­der toll ever.

Speak­ing at an In­de­pen­dence Day func­tion days af­ter he was of­fi­cial­ly sworn in­to of­fice Grif­fith gave him­self a dead­line date for mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the crime fight.

But as that dead­line date draws near­er it seems that us­ing the mur­der toll, the tra­di­tion­al barom­e­ter to gauge the suc­cess of a Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er, that Grif­fith is falling short.

For a coun­try with Trinidad and To­ba­go’s pop­u­la­tion size, our an­nu­al mur­der toll should be around 250, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tion­al bench­marks.

How­ev­er, T&T sur­passed that fig­ure with­in the first six months of the year.

The coun­try sur­passed the 300 mark this week.

And it is plau­si­ble that T&T will sur­pass the un­for­tu­nate mile­stone of 400 mur­ders at the end of this cal­en­dar year.

Since 2013 the coun­try’s mur­der toll has con­sis­tent­ly sur­passed that 400 fig­ure.

But 2019 was sup­posed to have been dif­fer­ent.

This year was the first time that Grif­fith was start­ing the year off as this coun­try’s Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er.

Grif­fith came in­to of­fice with a flood of pub­lic sup­port and ex­pec­ta­tion.

For many, Grif­fith, 54, is some­thing of a su­per­hero who has demon­strat­ed his will­ing­ness to take on the crim­i­nals.

There have been some pos­i­tive changes in crime un­der Grif­fith’s tenure.

For the first six months of 2019, CA­PA sta­tis­tics state that there were 5474 crimes re­port­ed to the TTPS.

For the com­par­a­tive pe­ri­od in 2018 there were 6,944 crimes re­port­ed.

There is no deny­ing that Grif­fith has a dif­fi­cult job.

In fact, it may ar­guably be the most dif­fi­cult job in this coun­try.

“Af­ter many years of ob­ser­va­tion, re­search, con­fer­ences, etc, I think be­ing com­mis­sion­er of po­lice in a democ­ra­cy is the hard­est job, es­pe­cial­ly in this law­less, dis­or­der­ly mul­ti-eth­nic coun­try”, crim­i­nol­o­gist and for­mer PSC chair­man Pro­fes­sor Ramesh De­osaran has said.

And ac­cord­ing to Grif­fith, his job is be­ing made ever more dif­fi­cult as the State is fund­ing gangs and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the killings.

But how does Grif­fith com­pare to oth­er in­di­vid­u­als who al­so held the reins of the TTPS.

Be­fore Grif­fith, Stephen Williams act­ed as Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er.

Williams, a sub­stan­tive Deputy Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er in the TTPS, was ap­point­ed act­ing top cop in Au­gust 2012.

The mur­der toll at the end of 2012 was 379.

In 2013 when Williams start­ed the year as Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er the mur­der toll af­ter six months was 186.

The mur­der toll at the end of 2013 was even­tu­al­ly 408.

Williams, a ca­reer po­lice with 37 years ser­vice in the TTPS, was cir­cum­spect with his deal­ing with the me­dia and the pub­lic.

Williams, an at­tor­ney, act­ed as po­lice com­mis­sion­er for six years.

In 2008 he was nom­i­nat­ed for the post of po­lice com­mis­sion­er but his nom­i­na­tion was re­ject­ed by the Par­lia­ment.

He was again re­ject­ed by Par­lia­ment in favour of Grif­fith in 2018.

Be­fore Grif­fith, Cana­di­an Dwayne Gibbs was this coun­try’s last sub­stan­tive po­lice com­mis­sion­er.

Gibbs, 54, a re­tired Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice in Al­ber­ta, Cana­da and held a doc­tor­ate in man­age­ment has his nom­i­na­tion for po­lice com­mis­sion­er ap­proved by the Par­lia­ment on Ju­ly 2, 2010.

Gibbs in­tro­duced 21st Cen­tu­ry Polic­ing but re­signed with more than a year of his con­tract re­main­ing.

Gibbs was the Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er when T&T had its State of Emer­gency in 2011.

The mur­der toll at the end of 2011 was 352.

In 2008 Trevor Paul, was the po­lice com­mis­sion­er, and ac­cord­ing to po­lice sta­tis­tics, 57 mur­ders were record­ed in June of that year mak­ing it the blood­i­est month in this coun­try’s his­to­ry at that time.

 

The mur­der toll had al­ready crossed the 250-mark at that time.

Deputy po­lice com­mis­sion­er James Philbert who was the most se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer in the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) fol­low­ing Paul’s re­tire­ment was giv­en the reins to act as top cop.

Paul’s re­tire­ment came while the Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sion’s (PSC) search for a sub­stan­tive po­lice com­mis­sion­er was still in progress.

Philbert was among the top five rec­om­mend­ed can­di­dates along with Se­nior Supt Stephen Williams; re­tired New York Po­lice De­part­ment cap­tain Louis Ve­ga, and As­sis­tant Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Fitzroy Fred­er­ick.

Williams’ name was sent to the Pres­i­dent as the PSC’s nom­i­na­tion for the top cop post.

How­ev­er, fol­low­ing a de­bate in Par­lia­ment on Ju­ly 4, Williams’ nom­i­na­tion was not ac­cept­ed.

The PSC ap­point­ed Philbert to act as com­mis­sion­er as the search for a sub­stan­tive com­mis­sion­er was re­sumed.

When Philbert took over as CoP the mur­der toll stood at 269.

For the re­main­der of that year, 278 more mur­ders were com­mit­ted, which re­sult­ed in the year 2008 end­ing with a record high of 547 mur­ders.

Reporter: Joel Julien

 

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