THE headline of the story by Yvonne Webb on Friday last, declaring “Major drug bust in central, prominent businessman detained” couldn’t compete with the snazzy shirt worn by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith as he sternly surveyed a tiled floor covered in packets of compressed marijuana, some in green and yellow plastic that played well off his sartorial choices that day.
This was an image of a CoP with an eye on not just taking the fight back to criminals, but one willing to do so with brusque determination and no shortage of bluster, a distinct and brassy change from his polite, largely retiring predecessors.
In the photo of the drug and arms haul, Griffith is the face of the police force, barefaced among a group of black-clad officers grouped supportively all around him, their faces covered with black cloth and balaclavas. The sting operation, described as the final act of what was touted as an 18-month intelligence gathering operation, netted hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs and ten powerful automatic rifles with ammunition.
There’s been no word yet on the policing that had been done during that year and a half, work supported by another Police Commissioner entirely.
There was just CoP Griffith, glaring balefully at the grim harvest at Macaya Trace in Central Trinidad, a stern harbinger for those who must have thought themselves untouchable until now. It was a story that eclipsed the seizure in Sangre Chiquito on Thursday night of 78 packets of marijuana hidden in four containers in “a bushy area.” That haul included a bulletproof vest, and one expects, supporting intelligence that directed officers to drug interdiction success.
Citizens await identification of the businessman and the other persons of interest being sought by the police in the Macaya Trace sting operation.
Also last week, the CoP announced plans to merge different financial police units to create a new division to tackle fraud, corruption and embezzlement, a pointed effort at focussing on white-collar crime, which he estimated as costing the country as much as $25 billion.
The CoP has successfully scaled the complexities of crime down to news consumables. That striking image from Macaya Trace in the green shirt, support for a doctrine of “one shot, one kill,” by his officers, calling on them to be “Rottweilers of aggression.
“But a successful police force will demand more faces in its forefront, identifiable men and women whose conduct and trustworthiness will represent the tip of the spear for a meaningful reintroduction of police presence into communities.
While feeding the news cycle skilfully, the CoP must also consider the nuances of crime and its many undercurrents, which are only navigable with a strong team of supporting officers.