A word to the wise

POLICE Commissioner Gary Griffith possesses commendable enthusiasm and energy.

He frequently pops up unexpectedly leading a raid, or directing traffic around the Savannah at Carnival. He took a turn in goal at the new football field at the police barracks last month.

He made a benign appearance at Monday’s demonstration held in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

He is refreshingly accessible at police media briefings and to (most) reporters and others to discuss police matters.

He is quick to defend the men and women of the police service who risk their lives in the course of their work.

He has made it clear that his office is independent and that the police are not at the beck and call of the political directorate.

But the commissioner is one man with limited resources, which he must husband carefully.

He has a huge task. He must not only oversee the management and deployment of a police service several thousand strong; he must reorganise, redirect and retool that service.

He must also lead the battle against a daunting wave of crime.

It is therefore disappointing that Mr Griffith is not only admirably visible on the streets by day, but equally high-profile as he patrols social media by night.

One drawback of any kind of public service is that it lays one open to criticism from any member of the public, sometimes unfair.

In his days as a politician, Mr Griffith was generally at liberty to respond in kind.

However, his role is now that of an impartial upholder of the law, pledged to protect and serve every citizen, and an exemplar to every police officer of how to fulfil that duty.

So it’s surprising and disappointing to see him indulging in what can fairly be described as verbal brawls, sometimes but not always online, allowing himself to be provoked by often light-hearted criticism, and tossing about personal insults unbecoming of a public figure, especially a commissioner of police.

Worse, in relation to Monday’s protest, it appears he is now using the official police Facebook account – seemingly without benefit of either editing or advice from a communications professional – to attack a party leader, using words such as “brainiac” – its meaning unclear, its intent obviously disparaging. The members of the public involved, whom he is sworn to serve, were also targets, denounced as guilty of “stupidity,” a “pack of cryers” and “hypocrites.”

A police commissioner needs all the public goodwill and co-operation he can get.

As a former soldier and no doubt student of military history, Mr Griffith should know that it is important to pick one’s battles.

This newspaper hopes that its editors are not roused at dawn tomorrow by the pings and buzzes of a furious onslaught of social media messages from the CoP.


"A word to the wise"

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