WHILE we are sometimes critical of the gun talk of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, we support his defiant stance against those who have issued threats at him and his wife Nicole. Perpetrators of these kinds of actions must face the full brunt of the law.
Public officials are so often subjected to threats – of varying degrees of credibility – that such threats are regarded as part and parcel of public life. The Griffiths are not the first to be subjected to the horrific language that we have seen reported. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was subjected to threats from since his days as the Opposition Leader and a man was earlier this month charged with incitement of a terrorist act against the PM’s convoy. Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar went public with threats against her in 2013.
Internationally, influential figures often face threats. Recent examples include the pipe bombs addressed to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, journalists at CNN and George Soros. Cesar Sayoc was arrested in relation to these matters and faces decades behind bars.
But the ubiquitous nature of these threats in no way makes them any less serious. They may involve only the officials named, but treating these matters lightly sends a dangerous message to the whole of society. Further, the particular nature of the threat recorded against the Griffiths this week bears uncomfortable echoes of the actions of extremists linked to ISIS who have been known to deploy decapitation. This kind of action must not be promoted or dismissed.
The arrest of a 35-year-old man in connection with the threat, as well as the guilty plea of a 12-year-old in relation to a separate threat incident, should serve as warnings to anyone who believes making these remarks is a laughing matter. With so much on the plate of the Police Service at the moment, the last thing that is needed is a distraction.
Therefore, people who conduct themselves in the manner that has been described in the reports should face the full consequences of their actions not only because of the nature of the offences committed but also because of the considerable diversion of state resources that ensues. Those resources could be otherwise used to help bring the crime rate down.
Though this is a grave matter, Griffith might be tempted to see a silver lining. As the old saying goes: people only pelt mango when the fruit is ripe. None of these matters should in any way deter the Commissioner of Police from exercising his lawful duties to the utmost. Nor should it cause him to bend over backward to go out of his way to show zeal for a job he’s already clearly passionate about. What is needed now is the cool, calm and objective application of the law.