Head of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Rajiv Diptee, has given his full support to the Acting Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, as it relates to the CoP’s stance on the Firearm Users Licences (FUL).
In a statement to media on Friday, Diptee noted Griffith’s diligence in ensuring applications are processed as quickly as possible, which he said was a great relief to the business community.
According to the statement:
The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) notes, with great consternation, the ongoing debate where Firearms User License(s) (FULs) are concerned. We also recognize that this commentary is taking place against the backdrop of a pandemic, which has created social strictures lending to depression, unrest and an uptick in criminal activity due to COVID-19 including violent crimes and armed robbery.
The wider retail sector is one that is considered a high-risk bubble in the ‘frontline’ environment as a confluence of variables make them ‘easy targets’ in the eyes of criminals. This was already a deep concern in the pre-COVID environment that only deepened during a succession of lock-down periods. In fact, at this time of writing, Trinidad and Tobago still finds itself operating in a State of Emergency (SoE) environment despite the fact that some restrictions have been lifted allowing for more freedom of movement and operation. These administrative measures have not deterred criminal activity in the least, while security (an ever-bloating expense to balance sheets) continues to grow, despite advances in technology that should allow for more environmental controls.
When the incumbent Commissioner of Police (CoP) assumed office in 2018, his strong interpersonal skills allowed for a vibrant dialogue between the TTPS and the business community. The sentiment at the time of his appointment was one of guarded hope; for too long had such a key position in the public service been fraught with encumberments, perils or lack of appetite to effect critical change in the FUL arena. It was well known to many the pile of pending FUL applications before the CoP’s desk.
In the very first meeting with the CoP in November 2018, hope sprang eternal among the sector as this was an issue the CoP was keen to address. He immediately demonstrated an intelligent appreciation of the stark challenges faced by the business community as well as the variance of treatment where high-risk applicants were to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. He committed immediately to begin burning through the backlog of applications as well as addressing forthcoming FUL applications to meet the battery of stringent criterion.
For those who considered it rhetoric and lip service at the time, the eventual approval of those who did meet the requirements for FUL consideration was met with jubilant relief by a beleaguered industry whom for too long had been pilloried by the criminal elements.
The FUL offers the average business person (who is required to train to possess the firearm in the first place) first and foremost a means of protection. It is never the remit of those in the business community to act with aggression in a situation where they are threatened; vigorous psychoanalytic means assessment in FUL screening weeds out those who present as red flags being predisposed to red flag behaviour. The FUL allows the recipient to protect themselves, their premises and the lives of their loved ones; the existence of so many anecdotes in the industry prove time and again a tragic reminder of what can be avoided in a bid to make an honest living.
The FUL debate, like many other contemporaneous debates with so many fence-liners, will rage on. Please be guided by the facts especially where the business retail sector including the SATT is in full support of not just strong pro-FUL stances by the CoP, but also advocate a widening of consideration for its members during these undoubtedly trying times.