Griffith wants TTDF to assume a more proactive role in crime suppression

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Griffith wants TTDF to assume a more proactive role in crime suppression

Former police commissioner Gary Griffith believes the T&T Defence Force should assume a more proactive role in crime suppression.

It was one of his many suggestions as he spoke during the Opposition’s Anti-crime Town Hall Meeting at the Eric Williams Auditorium, La Joya Complex, St Joseph, on Monday evening.

Griffith said while the Defence Force had the manpower to effectively treat with crime, they were used only in joint police patrols with the T&T Police Service (TTPS), which he felt yielded little results.

“We have a T&T Defence Force, 5,000-strong and they stay in camp and the reason for it is because they are boxed in a situation where they don’t have the capability to come out and operate as they should. This is not a time for being cosmetic, we are under siege, we are at war.”

He suggested that the authorities use Chapter 14:01 of the Defence Force Act to bring in soldiers to treat with criminals.

Section 238(1) of the Defence Act, Chap 14:01, allows the President to call out the Volunteer Defence Force or any portion of it for actual military service with their arms and ammunition, in aid of the civil power in any case in which a riot, disturbance of the peace, or other emergency.

Griffith, who served as commissioner of police from 2018 to 2021 and National Security Minister under the People’s Partnership government, also noted the ease of access criminals have to automatic weapons, which he said should cause the authorities to reconsider how crime is seen and addressed.

“We have certain persons—these criminal elements—who have assault weapons, automatic weapons that can fire 35 rounds in three seconds. If that is not a terrorist, I don’t know what is,” Griffith told the audience.

“I would recommend what we need to do is look at this same Anti-Terrorism Act. If we place these individuals where they belong—as terrorists, it now provides an opportunity to go after the individuals with full force to ensure they are sentenced as a capital punishment of 25 years in prison.

“It also goes after individuals who are aiding and abetting these gangs, from fellow gang members and even to certain politicians.”