THE EDITOR: Open letter to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
It is with deep sadness that I read recently where you chastised criminologists for offering comments, recommendations, analyses, as well as asking questions on the effectiveness of current law enforcement efforts in our country.
You went on to state that such criminologists do not have training on tactics, strategies, etc in law enforcement and that their inputs for solving the crime problem are mostly on its causes, etc. This is so far from the truth.
Mr Commissioner, several points are relevant here.
By your very own training, you are a military officer, not a law enforcement/police officer. Yet you are in charge of law enforcement/policing. Can this also be seen as a misfit?
Your core is military. It is expected that your approach to crime will be military. Our country does not need a military approach only. There are many facets of criminology that can help the police and other agencies of the State and NGOs deal with crime.
Many of the law enforcement buzzwords, policies, strategies, etc that you and every other law enforcement agency in the world use were developed by criminologists. These include community policing, zero tolerance approach, broken windows theory, crime diffusion, crime displacement, etc. You yourself used some of these in your early months as commissioner.
To chastise criminologists who question the effectiveness of your policies, strategies, etc and who may disagree with your approach is very troubling, to say the least.
Many criminologists would have studied law enforcement, crime, law and justice, etc. This is their field of expertise. They should be embraced rather than sidelined.
It is obvious why you are attempting to silence them. You are being called to answer by the experts and the results of your efforts have not been favourable in the number one crime problem facing us – murder.
You have to focus more on detection, prosecution (of certain crimes as the DPP handles some as well) and prevention – as these are the tasks of law enforcement. Criminologists play a key role in these three areas as well and can help you; don’t drive them away because they don’t agree with you.
Criminologists study gangs, homicides, sexual offences, drug trafficking, terrorism, corruption, youth crime, etc and how to deal with them from a law enforcement approach as well. Let’s all work together, Mr Commissioner.
The fight is with the criminals, not criminologists.