THE lack of gang-related killings for the month of May thus far is linked to the absence of state contracts, according to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith as he raised the issue of criminals using government contracts to buy weapons and fund their operations.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port of Spain, on Monday, Griffith said despite the issue of gangs being awarded state contracts remained a serious issue to the police, who have already begun investigations into these operations.
He said while arrests are not possible at this time, the police would be rolling out new strategies and policies to tackle businesses that work with gang leaders in receiving contracts.
Griffith said, “In preparation for the return of state contracts we intend to form policies and strategies to put an end to this or reduce it as quickly as possible. The Prime Minister as chair of the National Security Council and the Minister of National Security have condemned these actions and want it (them) to stop, so it is my job to adhere to the directive.
“We have no intention to bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. We intend to meet with all relevant people who provide contracts for such goods and services and again if it varies from different organisations, ministers, chairmen and CEOs, we intend to meet with them and bring it to their attention so nobody can say they are not aware.”
Griffith said the contracts range from the construction of houses and homework centres to painting state buildings and even planting trees.
He said companies like Cepep, the Housing Development Corporation and government ministries had engaged the attention of the police during their investigation. He also said the issue of gangs benefiting from state contracts has been a recurring issue for crime-fighting in TT for over 15 years, as criminals have benefited from government funding across various administrations.
Citing his own experience as National Security Minister, Griffith said it was a subject of concern for him both then and now.
“The reason I can speak about it is because I was in fact in another place and I fought it down and I was actually told by people, ‘That is just the way it is.’
"Not on my watch. I was in a certain position then to fight it down and I’m in a certain position now to fight it down.”