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