Brian Richards, one of the two students arrested at last month’s protest at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine campus, yesterday confronted Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith at an open discussion on restoring trust in the police service, saying he has not been told why he and fellow student Nathaniel John were arrested.
Richards posed his question to Griffith when the floor was opened for questions from the audience, saying he was concerned by some of Griffiths’ remarks on addressing crime and criminality in TT using violence.
He also asked for the police to develop a set of guidelines, together with the public, to address crowd control.
“Too many of your statements concern me,” he said. “Violence seems to be the core of your mandate. There are many things that merit an apology for the UWI incident, and I would like to clarify. and if you think my issue was with the officers having firearms, that is not the case.
“Up to this time no one has been able to explain to me what are the protocols and procedures that officers use when making arrests, dispersing crowds and so on.”
Griffith responded that since the matter was before the court, he was unable to address the issue, but stood by his decision to arrest people who block public roads.
“If someone breaks the law, the police officer will then inform the individual. If the officer did anything wrong, the courts will decide. What I will not condone is anyone who blocks a public road.”
He also responded to an incident in which members of a television news team were threatened with arrest by police for filming someone on a street in San Juan on Wednesday and apologised to the media.
“I try as best as possible to speak, build up and train police officers in how to speak to people. You cannot have the media recording something and you have the audacity to tell them that they have no rights to record that.
“With that, I apologise.
“If people are resisting arrest, they should be brought to the ground.”
Responding to questions over a set of guidelines for the police service, Griffith said while he would do his best to build a partnership with the public, policies tend to change with the resignation of commissioners, so such a plan would not be a long-term solution.