T&T's top cop: A policeman with a sense of country

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Trinidad and Tobago's Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has shown himself to be a policeman with a sense of country and a regional asset where many politicians tend to come up short.

Mr Griffith turned a potentially volatile incident into a diplomatic win for his police force and for his nation by heading off an unnecessary contretemps between Jamaicans and Trinidadians, after local police raided reggae artiste Buju Banton's hotel room in Port of Spain, but came up empty-handed.

Buju Banton, real name Mr Mark Myrie, was in the two-island nation on the third leg of his 'Long Walk to Freedom' tour when police appeared, claiming to have a warrant, at his hotel room and carried out a search last weekend. It was later found that no such search was ordered by authorities.

The artiste was reported as saying that the incident had left him incensed and upset initially as he felt violated. It was the day before he was scheduled to perform in the famed Queen's Park Savannah in the T&T capital.

Mr Griffith could have chosen to defend the action of his men and come up with some excuse that they were doing their job. Given the fact that the artiste had only this year been released from prison in the United States, the top cop could have got away with it in Trinidad.

Of course, Jamaicans in general would not take kindly to what could appear to be unwarranted harassment of one of their own by a country which is supposed to be a member of the already embattled Caribbean Community (Caricom).

And we know from experience that it takes very little to rekindle the low-burning flame and always simmering embers of the historic hostility between Caricom's two most important members.

So instead of pouring fuel on the fire, Commissioner Griffith visited with the Grammy-winning reggae artiste to personally apologise and promised to launch an investigation into the incident.

More than that, the top cop attended the Buju concert where he accepted an invitation from the singer to join him on stage for a show of unity. That action apparently satisfied the fans on both sides and lent itself to a successful concert.

But not the naysayers who hurled criticism at Mr Griffith for appearing to cosy up to the Jamaican artiste. They had no interest in his explanation that the search occurred as a result of poor procedure by certain officers of the T&T Police Service and could have led to a rift between the two sister islands.

“To those who do not understand the acceptance of responsibility and patriotism, had I not done this, relations between both countries could have been severely affected; possible boycotts of our products and other private sector sanctions were also on the table,” he said.

“If my actions affected some but helped bridge the gap between our country and a close ally, Jamaica, then I feel sorry for those whom I may have hurt. However, I did what was needed to be done. In fact, I did not put myself on stage; Buju requested it.”

It is clear to us that Commissioner Griffith has been keeping up with the news over the years, much more than his critics who still don't have a clue how to promote harmony even among sister islands.


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