The back and forth between the CoP, Minister of National Security and Fixin' TT's Kirk Waithe has gone on long enough and it wouldn't be out of line to note that the National Security Minister, Stuart Young, is overstepping somewhat to dismiss the matter by declaring that "No one cares." It is, in the larger scheme of crime prevention, a petty issue, and it is precisely for that reason that it's time it was decisively and brought to closure. The issue flared up again early last week after a report which cited a person claiming to be a former commissioner of police expressed concerns about the decision of the current Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to adopt urban camouflage as a part of his sartorial choices for operations in the field.
It's no secret that before Griffith began sporting urban camouflage versions of his tactical uniform, that the use of any kind of camouflage by anyone outside the defence force was not just frowned on by the authorities, it was acted on with dramatic suddenness. Babies have been stripped of cute camouflage infant wear, and young men sent home in their underwear after boldly stepping out in sharp urban camo trousers. As recently as January, two men were arrested in Arima for being in possession of a Glock pistol, ammunition and several camouflage kits. Such finds are increasingly commonplace, bundles of weapons and clothing meant to distract and deceive potential victims, giving criminals another edge in their assaults on civil society.
It’s an issue that hasn’t missed the attention of the Minister of National Security. In December, Young warned that the Government is considering an increase in fines for anyone illegally using police uniforms. He hasn’t announced any new measures to control and manage the use of official police uniforms, which have turned up in some criminal cases.
CoP Griffith wants to do things differently in reorienting the response of the service to criminal activity and whether the decision to switch his team’s field uniforms to an urban camouflage variant is a tactical decision or simply a fashion statement, it should be accompanied by a clear statement and clarification on its use. The CoP should not be exempt from reasoned interrogation of his use of camouflage wear by virtue of his post, nor should he have to suffer the indignities visited on civilian infringers.
The capabilities should lie within Cabinet to marshal the legislation required to adapt existing law to support this new approach from the Police Service. Then, perhaps, we can put this behind us and move on to more useful aspects of this year’s crime response.