Grif­fith to com­mu­ni­ties: Don’t be blinded by loyalty to gang leaders

Peo­ple who are blind­ed in loy­al­ty to their re­spec­tive gang lead­ers and oth­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty will be ar­rest­ed should they move to block roads and protest.

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith made this clear to peo­ple who con­done gang ac­tiv­i­ties and seek to de­fend gang lead­ers and mem­bers in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties. He spoke at a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

“I would want to ad­vise the pub­lic…those who put God past their thoughts this time around I will be wait­ing on them…no area should feel that they so big and bad…If they are in love with their gang lead­ers they will join them,” Grif­fith said.

“No­body has the au­thor­i­ty to block roads, no one had the au­thor­i­ty to take the law in­to their own hands.

“Every­thing is in­tel­li­gence dri­ven and the op­er­a­tions will be based on that. It is not a case of us try­ing to de­lib­er­ate­ly in­tim­i­date, pro­file, or ha­rass or tar­get any­one on an in­di­vid­ual based. We are look­ing at in­di­vid­u­als who want to use their ‘troops’ to work above the law,” he added.

On Wednes­day, Grif­fith along with of­fi­cers from sev­er­al units of the Po­lice Ser­vice, in­clud­ing the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Team, Guard and Emer­gency Branch, In­ter-Agency Task Force, the Ca­nine Unit and the Or­gan­ised Crime and In­tel­li­gence Unit moved in­to the Dan Kel­ly, Laven­tille and Phase 5 Beetham Gar­dens ar­eas.

The of­fi­cers con­duct­ed sev­er­al search­es and de­tained 27 peo­ple, in­clud­ing sev­er­al gang lead­ers dur­ing a 72-win­dow pe­ri­od.

In the ex­er­cis­es, 30 war­rants were ex­e­cut­ed on peo­ple for var­i­ous of­fences and 105 tick­ets for dri­ving un­der in­flu­ence and speed. There were al­so 359 strate­gic stop and search­es con­duct­ed.

Those gang lead­ers are said to be the ones re­spon­si­ble for plot­ting, col­lab­o­rat­ing and giv­ing in­struc­tions to cre­ate may­hem with­in T&T, more specif­i­cal­ly, Port-of-Spain.

One of the sus­pect­ed gang lead­ers was re­cent­ly re­leased from prison and is be­lieved to be linked to the sud­den in­crease of gun crimes, in­clud­ing mur­ders in Port-of-Spain.

Not ven­tur­ing in­to spe­cif­ic names or peo­ple who have been de­tained, Grif­fith said it is un­fair to the po­lice for peo­ple who have se­ri­ous cas­es pend­ing to be giv­en bail eas­i­ly. He, how­ev­er, sug­gest­ed that he would be seek­ing to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

“It is very dif­fi­cult for the TTPS to do our job when we do all that is re­quired through in­tel­li­gence, get­ting in­for­ma­tion, ar­rest per­sons, have per­sons ar­rest­ed with firearms and with­in a few hours or a day or so they are re­leased based on the easy ac­cess of bail…it makes it very dif­fi­cult for the po­lice ser­vice,” Grif­fith said.

“An in­di­vid­ual who has sev­er­al se­ri­ous cas­es pend­ing and then bail is giv­en to him and then maybe you start see­ing an in­crease in homi­cides,” he added.

Grif­fith said he strong­ly be­lieves that it is not by chance that there have been more as­sas­si­na­tion threats to him­self in the last two months com­pared to how many Test match­es won by the West In­dies in the last ten years “and there is a rea­son for that be­cause I am do­ing what is re­quired.

“I in­tend to con­tin­ue along that line and who vex loss.”

On Wednes­day af­ter­noon, Grif­fith an­nounced a “red-code” based on the es­ca­la­tion of threat as­sess­ments and gang ac­tiv­i­ties and homi­cides. He made it clear that it is in “no way a de­gree of in­tim­i­da­tion or pro­fil­ing…it is in de­fend­ing the coun­try…We are in a war…we have a na­tion to de­fend. This is about good vs evil, right vs wrong…all of us get­ting to­geth­er to hit back at the crim­i­nal el­e­ments.”

Grif­fith said last year the homi­cide rate de­creased by 18 to 22 per cent same pe­ri­od and added that in the Port-of-Spain Di­vi­sion there was 1 mur­der record­ed last year com­pared to 11, same pe­ri­od this year.

At the end of Feb­ru­ary 2018, the mur­der toll stood at 97. Up to press time yes­ter­day, the mur­der toll was at 71.

Al­so sit­ting in at the me­dia con­fer­ence were Deputy Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice, De­o­dat Du­lalchan and ACP Crime Jayson Forde. Po­lice of­fi­cers have again warned the pub­lic of mi­nor dis­rup­tions due to in­creased an­ti-crime ex­er­cis­es and stop and search ex­er­cis­es.

- by Rhondor Dowlat. Photo by Abraham Diaz.

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