AS Police Commissioner Gary Griffith gears up to deal with errant police officers by way of tribunals, 23 police officers with minor infractions had their cases dismissed recently.
According to officers attached to the Legal Unit, the 23 officers had a total of 32 matters against them either dismissed, reprimanded and discharged. According to the officers, most of the matters dealt with were for disobeying an order and absenteeism. Only one officer was penalised with a deduction of a day's pay for neglect and absence of duty.
Additionally, 20 officers were served with letters advising them to resign or else they will be fired. Those officers were charged with serious offences. In May, Griffith said it was unacceptable to have police officers charged with violent crimes such as murder and rape and still be in the police service. Griffith’s attempt to fire a police officer charged with murder was temporarily blocked last Wednesday by Justice Ricky Rahim as the officer challenged the decision.
That officer, PC Safraz Juman, who has been on suspension since December 2017, filed a judicial review against the move to have him removed from the police service. Juman is one of six police officers who on July 15, 2013 were committed to stand trial for the murders of Abigail Johnson, Alana Duncan and Kerron “Fingers” Eccles. The trio were shot dead during an encounter with police at the corner of Poui and Gunness Trace in Barrackpore on July 22, 2011. Juman was last assigned to the Southern Division CID’s Operations Unit. On March 16, Juman and his five co-accused were served with a letter titled “Dismissal or Retirement of (name inserted) from the TT Police Service.”
On June 18, Griffith said there are 280 police officers on suspension with 24 in prison. He added that he will be setting up tribunals to deal with officers on suspension as “officers should not be suspended indefinitely” since that is a burden to the taxpayers, amounting to close to $50 million annually, was unfair to him. At the media conference Head Legal of the police service, Christian Chandler said tribunals are expected to begin in July. He added that the recording systems were being put in place in order to have “effective and efficient” tribunals while officers are currently being trained to better assist with the tribunals.
Chandler, in a WhatsApp response to questions from Sunday Newsday, said last month: “For far too long police officers have been on suspension without a hearing and their lives and careers left in abeyance whilst they continue to be paid at the expense of taxpayers. The consequence of which is that, the police service’s actual strength is diametrically opposed to that which is reflected by the records, much to the disadvantage of the organisation and the CoP."