Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. Photo: Azlan Mohammed
By Sue-Ann Wayow
IF everyone has a democratic right to say and do what they want in Trinidad and Tobago, there will be an infringement on other rights and therefore proper law must be drafted and enforced says Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
Speaking in support of the anti-gang legislation that he is hoping will have the support of all Parliamentarians on Friday, Griffith said it would be illogical for any person wanting to increase security in the country to not support an extended duration of the law.
The Anti-Gang Act (2018) was assented on May 15, 2018 and was enforced for a period of 30 months from date of commencement.
The commissioner speaking during a press conference hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) on Tuesday said the dismantling of organised gangs can save hundreds of lives as many gangs were becoming high powered in their weaponry posing a serious threat to law abiding citizens.
Griffith said, “We need to dismantle the gangs, we need to let them operate in silos.”
Making a comparison to North America, Griffith said the enforcement of strong law and “harsh measures” has greatly assisted with the decrease in criminal activity, not just in murders but in rape, money laundering, kidnapping and other crimes.
While it can be debated that certain aspects of the law bordered on the protection of rights, Griffith said, “If everyone has a democratic right to say and do what they want, it is going to affect the democratic rights of other citizens which also includes loss of life which is your most fundamental right. As much as we have to make sure laws would not be drafted that would not infringe on your rights for no reason, this is a reason. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, we strongly see the importance of this type of legislation.”
The commissioner added that if T&T implements just a fraction of what has been implemented in North America to reduce criminal activity, “It will go a long way with the reduction of crime.”
Before gangs came to this country, the homicide rate was less than 100. With the introduction of gang and gang warfare, criminal activity has increased five times more and the nation has seen the escalation of human trafficking, child prostitution, money laundering, drugs and illegal weapons being imported Griffith said.