Kamla wants Gary at crime talks
Rowley must face ‘biggest mistake’…
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will be placed on the spot at upcoming crime talks when he comes face-to-face with Gary Griffith who he said was the “biggest mistake” he ever made when he appointed him as police commissioner.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday confirmed to the Express that Griffith will be one of the persons on her team to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the crime problem in this country.
Persad-Bissessar said she will be responding to the Prime Minister’s letter dated September 16, 2023, which invited her to submit written crime-fighting proposals following which there is a proposed meeting with the Government with four-member teams on both sides respectively.
She said she intends to request that the Prime Minister widen the invitation to include stakeholders from society.
With respect to Griffith, Persad-Bissessar said he has a proven track record of curbing crime and, quite frankly, no conversation can be had on treating with crime without him present.
Griffith can help tremendously from an “operational standpoint”, she added.
“As a former police commissioner, he can provide valuable insight that bridges the gaps between legislative solutions and implementation of policies in real-world situations,” she said.
She reiterated the need for a all stakeholders, not just the Opposition, to have a say and make suggestions.
“I will issue a reply to Rowley’s letter in the coming days. I hope he changes course and decides to work with every stakeholder who wishes to contribute positively. I believe that the pool of stakeholders to be included and consulted should be widened to outside of the PNM and UNC. I again call for a broadening of the amount of entities to be engaged,” she said.
“We need all of society to buy in and therefore we must try to listen to all of the people who want to contribute. By not reaching out and including all stakeholders, this may appear to the average man as just another PR exercise by the Rowley government to buy time against criticism from the public and then disingenuously blame the UNC and citizens again for crime,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar pointed out that all the previous talk shops such as the Caricom crime symposium where violence was a “public health issue which no one can yet clearly define”.
She further noted that the Prime Minister in 2020 had appointed a committee to probe the issues in depressed communities.
“I do hold out hope that this is a genuine attempt at cooperation but without including more stakeholders I do fear that this may end up as a government PR gimmick with a PNM says vs UNC says endpoint. This type of endpoint would be very unfair to the citizens that are living in terror due to crime. Business, civil society union, media representatives, religious bodies, industry leaders, educational experts etc should be included,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said while Griffith will be part of her team, she is still determining the other members to accompany her.
Patriot before politician
Griffith, now political leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) partnered with the United National Congress (UNC) to fight select seats in the recent local government election.
He served as a National Security adviser to Persad-Bissessar when she was Prime Minister and as National Security Minister between 2013 and 2015.
In August 2018, the Police Service Commission (POlSC) appointed Griffith as Police Commissioner, with the blessings of the Rowley led Government.
His ambition to serve a second term as top cop was curtailed by the Prime Minister himself who met with former PolSC chairman Bliss Seepersad and provided her with information from a report on the distribution of Firearm User’s Licences (FULs) under Griffith’s watch.
This caused Seepersad to withdraw the Merit List from then-president Paula-Mae Weekes which Griffith had topped.
There has been tension for the past few years between Rowley and Griffith.
Up to recently during the local government campaign Griffith felt compelled to stop on the Moka golf course and shout at the Prime Minister, accusing him (Rowley) of being a “failure” who was golfing every day and not treating with the country’s pertinent issues such as crime.
Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday Griffith said he will not feel any awkwardness in meeting with Rowley as the enemy are the criminals.
He said Rowley is in a position of authority and he (Griffith) will always be a “patriot before politician” and will have no problem engaging in talks.
He said there is need for “political maturity” at what is best for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Kamla wants Gary at crime talks