Griffith: Some Chinese restaurants a front for illegal gambling

The ex­plo­sion in the growth of Chi­nese restau­rants at every cor­ner is no de­mand for Chi­nese food as Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith says some are fronts for il­le­gal gam­bling.

Speak­ing at the Oropouche East Con­stituen­cy Of­fice, Grif­fith said that be­cause the po­lice were crack­ing down on many as­pects of crime, peo­ple are be­ing very crit­i­cal of the po­lice ser­vice.

How­ev­er, he said there was a small per­cent­age of cit­i­zens who do not want to change.

“Il­le­gal gam­bling, for in­stance, that play whe gam­bling you know in all these dif­fer­ent restau­rants. These Chi­nese restau­rants. How much Chi­nese food do you re­al­ly eat in a coun­try?

Some of these restau­rants are fronts, they’re be­ing used for il­le­gal gam­bling. This has cost us in Trinidad over $3 bil­lion, in the econ­o­my, that is not go­ing to the State be­cause of the il­le­gal gam­bling.

Yet when I push these things to try to curb gang ac­tiv­i­ty, to try to deal with the mon­ey laun­der­ing or with all the prob­lems we have with drugs and il­le­gal weapons en­ter­ing the coun­try, I am hurt­ing per­sons

. “If we seize some­thing with $7 mil­lion in co­caine, some­body has lost $7 mil­lion and I’m the one they would blame so we would al­ways have per­sons who will be crit­i­cal of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice be­cause now we’re step­ping on the toes. We are go­ing where the po­lice have not gone be­fore,” Grif­fith said.

He said he has no in­ten­tion to throw a blan­ket over the peo­ple in­volved in these il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties. While the me­dia re­ferred to some of them as com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, he said there were “punks” and “en­e­mies of the State” who would be treat­ed as such. 

New Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Unit com­ing— CoP

With hun­dreds of women suf­fer­ing spousal abuse, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith says a Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Unit will be es­tab­lished to deal with those is­sues with­in two months' time.

It was one of sev­er­al new mea­sures Grif­fith an­nounced to mem­bers of the Oropouche East Con­stituen­cy af­ter meet­ing with Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Mooni­lal. On Wednes­day was one of 41 meet­ings Grif­fith plans to hold with MPs in a bid to tai­lor the ser­vices of­fered by po­lice to the needs of the con­stituen­cies.

He al­so an­nounced that a sys­tem will be put in place to al­low peo­ple to re­port crimes on­line, the es­tab­lish­ment of a Miss­ing Per­son Cold Case Unit and the merg­ing of the Cy­ber Crime Unit with a so­cial me­dia unit through a work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the New York Po­lice De­part­ment.

Grif­fith said sev­er­al plans im­ple­ment­ed so far have pegged back crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties such as the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team, which has dealt with sev­er­al ma­jor crimes in re­cent months.

He said there was a 20 per cent re­duc­tion in vi­o­lent crimes and a 15 per cent re­duc­tion in homi­cide in the first quar­ter of 2019 when com­pared to 2018. How­ev­er, he said there was still a long way to go.

“There are sev­er­al oth­er units that we will be launch­ing very soon: the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Unit to min­imise the con­cerns we have been see­ing for far too long in this coun­try with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence tak­ing place and not be­ing dealt with ef­fec­tive­ly as it should,” Grif­fith said.

Last Sep­tem­ber, the po­lice’s Vic­tim & Wit­ness Sup­port Unit re­vealed that it had a 70 per cent in­crease in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims be­ing re­ferred to it. Be­tween April on June 2018, the Unit as­sis­ted 195 vic­tims com­pared to 116 from Jan­u­ary to March.

There was al­so 34 per cent in­crease in clients be­tween Jan­u­ary to Ju­ly in com­par­i­son to the last six months of 2017.

With daft es­ti­mates ex­pect­ed to be sub­mit­ted to the var­i­ous min­istries ahead of the 2019/20 na­tion­al bud­get, Grif­fith said that his bud­get pro­pos­al will fo­cus on tech­nol­o­gy, op­er­a­tional in­tel­li­gence and cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing.

Cus­tomer ser­vice was one of the is­sues brought up by stake­hold­ers, who com­plained about the at­ti­tude of some of­fi­cers, say­ing that it was one of the rea­sons some peo­ple feared the po­lice. Grif­fith said in­di­rect­ly, cit­i­zens were their boss­es, and po­lice of­fi­cers need to re­spect cit­i­zens.

How­ev­er, he said peo­ple should al­so re­spect of­fi­cers and called on the pub­lic to give that re­spect while they try to earn it.

Gary meets pris­on­ers on new death threats to prison of­fi­cers

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith vis­it­ed the Max­i­mum Se­cu­ri­ty Prison (MSO) on Wednes­day to speak with sev­er­al in­mates af­ter a plot to mur­der five prison of­fi­cers was un­cov­ered by the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team.

Al­though he did not spec­i­fy who were the in­mates in­volved, Grif­fith said that it is now hoped that there will be no fur­ther dis­rup­tions in­side or out­side the pris­ons.

 "I had a very in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion with some of the pris­on­ers and it is hoped that good sense will pre­vail and there will be no fur­ther dis­rup­tion in the pris­ons or out­side of the pris­ons," Grif­fith said.

In­for­ma­tion from a con­fi­den­tial re­port sug­gest­ed that the threat was re­lat­ed to an in­ci­dent that took place at the prison in Arou­ca where a cell­phone was con­fis­cat­ed from a gang mem­ber.

The of­fi­cers have been alert­ed about the threats and se­cu­ri­ty mea­sures were put in place for their pro­tec­tion.

On Tues­day, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young said he had spo­ken to act­ing Com­mis­sion­er of Pris­ons Dane Clarke and Grif­fith about the re­port, adding that threats of vi­o­lence against law en­force­ment of­fi­cers will not be tol­er­at­ed.

Grif­fith added that he was await­ing a full re­port in­to the lat­est break­out at the Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion Cen­tre where five peo­ple es­caped.

Un­til he re­ceives it, he said he would not be able to com­ment. Asked whether the gov­ern­ment's de­ci­sion to grant amnesty to il­le­gal im­mi­grants for Venezuela would pose a chal­lenge, Grif­fith said the po­lice were ready to deal with any fall­out if it aris­es.

He said that as Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er, it was not his place to give his per­son­al view on de­ci­sions made by the State.

"Any de­ci­sion made by the State, the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice will be up to the chal­lenge."

Reporter: Kevon Felmine

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