COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith yesterday said police officers making lewd and suggestive comments about young women while on duty may feel they can do so without fear of repercussion or disciplinary action, but said he intended to partner with the Police Complaints Authority in addressing these and other issues relating to errant police.
At a police town hall meeting in Laventille on Wednesday, a woman complained of being harassed by police. Speaking at a breakfast meeting with the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Griffith said he read about Newsday’s article and officers may feel their actions will not come back to haunt them, but he intended to take all such matters seriously.
“If it is these officers are stopping people in a roadblock and they are making very lewd and inappropriate comments to ladies, the officer will continue to do so because he feels that nothing will happen.
“I intend to work closely with the Police Complaints Authority to see to these matters. If they (the police) are aware that if they do not adhere to their obligation, there will be repercussions, they won’t engage in that action.”
Newsday also spoke to president of the police Social Welfare Association Insp Michael Seales, who said the issue of policemen acting inappropriately has also attracted the attention of his association, and he supported the commissioner’s efforts to stamp out indiscipline.
“When an officer is on the job, it is not expected that he be courting a woman, and if he cannot respect that or understand it, he does not deserve to wear that uniform, and I must commend the commissioner for taking this stance. He has my full support.”
Seales said when officers were on the job and in uniform it was expected that their behaviour and actions reflect the best of society, and challenged all officers to be role models in the communities they police.
In a release, director of the advocacy group Womantra, Stephanie Leitch said while male police officers making such advances towards women is not new, it was no excuse for officers to continue to use their uniforms as a form of authority over women.
She described Snr Supt Floris Hodge-Griffith’s response to the resident’s concerns as “inappropriate.” At Wednesday’s town hall meeting, Hodge-Griffith said of the resident’s complaint, “Well, the good news is that you’re nice.”
Leitch responded, “While the comment may have been well-meaning and considered a harmless validation of her physical attractiveness, it is also a subtle reinforcement of the idea that women should be open to receiving sexual advances, even when they are unwanted or threatening.”
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said officers making lewd and suggestive comments about young women while on duty may feel they can do so without fear of disciplinary action. However, he intends to partner with the Police Complaints Authority to address these and other issues relating to errant conduct by the police.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting with the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce this morning, Griffith said he read about Newsday's article and said officers may feel their actions will not come back to haunt them but said he intends to take all such matters seriously.