Chaguanas – The Commissioner of Police (CoP), Gary Griffith recently announced a “major overhaul” of the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit (OCIU) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) as a direct consequence of the raid of the hotel room of Jamaican Reggae icon Mark Buju Banton. The Political Leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, is asking whether this was a case of:
- Failure of intelligence gathering and analysis;
- Unfair targeting and abuse of process; or
- A combination of all the of the above.
If this is indeed the case, of grave concern is how many citizens of this country were and continue to be victims of what can be deemed negligence, and who do not have the means and resources to engage high-cost leading attorneys in their defence. The Police Commissioner should address his mind to this issue with a view to determining how many citizens are so affected.
This further emphasizes the urgent need to continue the transformation of the Police Service and other law enforcement agencies. In order to effectively and efficiently institute Intelligence-led Policing, officers must be reskilled and retooled and systems and processes must be re-engineered to embrace technology-enabled solutions and best practices emerging globally. This requires a comprehensive and holistic reform plan which must take priority if we are to achieve the public trust and confidence in a Police Service that is transparent, fair, independent and free of political bias.
With respect to the possibility of a rift between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the mitigation of this risk required the prompt action on the part of the Ministers of National Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry. It is instructive to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is staffed with Public Officers trained to avert any possible diplomatic crisis.
On the issue of relations with the media, the issue of a “black-out” is not an option.
It is important to reiterate that the Police Service is a state agency funded annually by billions of dollars out of the public purse and therefore accountable to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Instead of being at war with each other, it is important for institutions to engender collaborative relationships in our country’s interest. Over the last couple of months, both the Police Commissioner and the media have facilitated a better appreciation of the workings of the Police Service. However, officials of the Police Service must always be mindful of the attendant risks of overexposure in the form of pre-trial publicity and the possible compromise of sensitive investigations. In addition, the media must be allowed at all times to publicly report constructive criticism, the impetus for continuous improvement towards the greater good.
We must at all times be mindful of our duty to exercise due care and diligence towards respecting the right to freedom of expression without compromising our nation’s national security interest.