Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, says a thorough investigation will be conducted to determine if a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) committed any criminal act during a raid on a house at Kathleen Warner Drive, Phase I, La Horquetta, on September 22nd, 2020, where $22 million in cash was seized.
This is the Commissioner’s full statement:
The CoP wishes to clarify the misleading headline and article in the Sunday Express today which stated that a POLICE OFFICER was caught stealing money from the house. According to the CoP, that is totally false. He said that based on that one article, there were very misleading and unfortunate comments from the public, some who seem hell bent on demonizing the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) once again.
“In the usual haste by a certain reporter to attempt to discredit the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (this being her 42nd consecutive negative article on the TTPS since August 2018), and in total contrast to what is being stated, the individual in the video and photograph being circulated is NOT an officer of the TTPS. He is NOT a member of SORT. He is NOT a Special Reserve Police Officer (SRP). He is in fact a serving member of the TTDF who was part of the operation, which is usually done in similar fashion to the IATF operations. The uniform worn as seen in the photograph and video is also NOT SORT but TTDF.
“However, of more importance, as with all allegations, the TTPS will investigate this incident, to ascertain what was in the envelope and if evidence was removed without authorization by the TTDF personnel.
“What is noted in this unfortunate incident, is yet again the thirst by some to label the TTPS in a negative light without getting the facts. Regardless of who took the envelope, this was a Police-led Operation, so the TTPS is responsible, and just as is being done to ascertain if the $22 million in cash discovered was acquired from legitimate means, and just as an investigation is ongoing to ascertain why would senior police officers return such money without the proper process, likewise, this latest development would also be thoroughly investigated.”
The COP via his own informants, started this investigation, and was able to target the home that had over $22 million in cash scattered in boxes and cupboards around the house. To hear persons from varying quarters voice their immense concern about the Police targeting this type of activity, was expected by him, as the COP states:
“When I started to launch this type of investigation, I was told that I would be going into unchartered waters and would be stepping on large toes, inclusive of big criminal business, gangs who use such systems to launder funds acquired from the drug trade, and also senior law enforcement personnel who would be involved and used as cover for the transporting and securing of such funds. The desperate attempts to get me to back off, and even shift the focus from the real mastermind criminals, is now not surprising. To those who want to pretend that they know for fact that this is legitimate business, please show the receipts, and just making up receipts would not do. One must show source of funds, then we would investigate how and when each person who deposited such cash, acquired such cash to give to this legitimate business called – what was it again? Oh yes—DRUGS Sou. Interesting name.”
“One also has to look at the quantum of money stored, and which reasonable, honest person would believe that $22 million stacked in a house is no cause for reasonable suspicion, as well as the manner in which the money was stacked, being under beds, in cardboard boxes, and on shelves.”
“Yet a media house, interestingly enough, decides to plaster someone who has $22 million in cash, under his bed and in boxes, as a ‘Fortune 500 CEO’.”
He gives the assurance to law abiding citizens, and to enforce the disappointment by those who want him to back off, that he would be now even more resolute to crack any system being used to cause crime or for those to benefit from crime.
Commissioner Griffith says based on this one newspaper article, we are seeing comments by certain people which give the false impression that if this was a police officer who did something wrong, then all 8,000 police officers must be discredited.
“They would say that the Commissioner would be at fault and is to blame, if one officer committed that act. That is what we have reached to now. In their exuberance to discredit myself or the Police Service, look at how many are behaving, as if there is any Police Service in the world which is 100 percent perfect. By the Grace of God, in this case it was not a police officer, but they want to find a way to bring down myself or the Police Service.”
The CoP continued, “It seems we have hit a nerve with the exposure of this $22 million in cash. They are trying to divert attention away from the issue and to force the police to back off, but I want to assure you that the TTPS will be investigating police officers and other members of the Protective Services, whom it may appear, are heavily involved in this matter. It would seem, by the comments, that the public wants the blood of the Police and not the criminals. I was the one who said the TTPS would investigate the discovery of the $22 million in cash in one house, but it seems there are people who were upset by my decision.”
Commissioner Griffith pointed out that several months ago, there was an incident involving a homeless man on George Street, Port-of-Spain.
“The video footage clearly showed that it involved members of the TTDF who were engaging the homeless man while two police officers sat in the front of the police vehicle. But the media ran with the headline and story that it was the Police who committed the act.
“In this world there will always be bad apples that have to be dealt with. What is important is that I will not leave these bad apples alone to spoil the bunch. Many will see only what they want to see for now as I won’t doubt that many also have a hand in this pyramid scheme. It does look really bad, BUT people are not understanding that I am not defending anything but rather just correcting a false headline by a reporter that seems to have a personal issue with the TTPS and the CoP, by extension. I have no doubt that I will make these bad apples accountable.”
“In the two years under my watch, there have been 80 officers suspended, 60 arrested and I requested over 20 to be dismissed from the Service, amounting to disciplinary action taken, once every five days on officers. As Police Commissioner, I give the assurance that I would do all possible to ensure that no one in uniform would be given a free pass if they do not adhere to their oath of office.”
“As long as I sit in the chair of Commissioner of Police, a badge or a uniform won’t protect you from wrongdoing. I am doing all that I can to save this country, but it seems that some deliberately do not want this country to be saved.”