HOURS before going on leave, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith told Newsday on Friday that he hopes police will extend their full co-operation to foreign investigators in the $22 million DSS scandal and warned that failure to do so could lead to suspensions and even criminal charges against non-compliant officers.
Griffith said he fully agreed with Prime Minister Dr Rowley’s remarks at a PNM meeting on Thursday that the DSS scheme was a cancer and welcomed the help of external investigators.
He noted that he himself encountered some difficulty in supervising the DSS probe due to “continued interference” and hoped the assistance of foreign investigators would resolve the matter.
The top cop called on local police to fully co-operate with the foreign investigators. “If it is there is any decision that is made and persons are deliberately trying to interfere with this investigation more people will be suspended and if not, charges could be laid.
“I am not going to have any police officer at any rank pervert the course of justice and deliberately try to interfere with these investigations. As it is right now I have taken action against some, more can be suspended very soon. Some people wanted me to cover this up. They used diversion and I was put under a lot of pressure to try to back off from this,” Griffith said.
Griffith said one of the reasons which led to sanctions against 15 police officers was deliberate interference in the investigation. He said the enquiry has gone “very deep” and he is glad international investigators are coming in to tackle misconduct among police officers and/or Defence Force personnel.
“If we can get that international assistance – because I have Trojan horses and it goes very high up – so if this is an avenue that can assist me in bringing possible perpetrators to justice, especially those in uniform, I welcome that decision,” Griffith said.
Asked how the mechanics behind the foreign police officers would operate so far outside of their respective jurisdictions, Griffith said he intends to make them Special Reserve Police (SRP) officers which would give them powers of investigation. He said he has selected certain “trustworthy” local officers who would work alongside the foreign investigators.
For his part, president of the Police Social Welfare Association Insp Gideon Dickson said he would continue to monitor the developments as they happen.
“The association’s view is that we want transparency, accountability and fairness to be displayed at all levels. We don’t want anybody being made a sacrifical lamb for political expedience. It must be fair to all and we will be looking at the developments of the enquiry,” he said.
Dickson also said while he welcomes the inclusion of foreign officers in the investigation, he hopes there could also be some exchange of expertise to local police officers to strengthen their investigative capacities.
A media release on Friday from National Security Minister Stuart Young indicated that the Barbados government had written to him confirming that two senior members of the Royal Barbados Police Force will arrive early next week to assist in the DSS investigations.
The release also stated that the ministry has been in contact with the National Crime Agency (NCA) in Britain to request their assistance and is awaiting a response.
This story was originally published with the title "CoP: PM's DSS comments 'spot on'" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said he agreed with the remarks of the Prime Minister describing the "Drugs Sou-Sou" (DSS) as a threat to national security and welcomed assistance from foreign investigators with the ongoing enquiry.
Speaking at the PNM's virtual post-budget meeting on Thursday night, the Prime Minister confirmed that senior police from Barbados and the UK will be brought to TT to help with the investigation into why $22 million in cash seized from the home of the DSS administrators was returned.
He said the scheme was not a sou-sou but a threat to national security. Speaking with Newsday before he left TT on Friday, Griffith said he agreed with Dr Rowley's remarks and welcomed the help of external investigators. "What the Prime Minister said was spot on.
"As the chair of the National Security Council, it is his right to bring in assistance, and I welcome it, because it has become very difficult to me to deal with this investigation, because there has been continued interference where people have been commiting actions. And it started the very day when senior officers decided to return the money.
"This matter has gone very deep and if we can get that international assistance – because I have Trojan horses, and it goes very high up – so if this is an avenue that can assist me in bringing possible perpetrators to justice, especially those in uniform, I welcome that decision."
The PSC in a release on Friday said that Griffith was on vacation effective October 16 to November 01. However, the TTPS in a release sent after the PSC's release, stated that Griffith was on leave and while overseas, will be undergoing a medical check-up. The TTPS release said he would return to TT on October 31.