POLICE COMMISSIONER Gary Griffith said it will be a dereliction of duty of the police service not investigate information posted on social media referring to criminal activity.
In an apparent response to a Newsday article relating a man who was questioned by police hours after making a Facebook post, Griffith said the police will even use information found on social media. Some people have accused the police commissioner of abusing his power to silence a critic over the police action.
“The Cyber and Social Media Unit has noted an increase in the number of persons sharing information about criminals and criminal activities with the police via social media. The TTPS assures the public that they will uphold their obligation to ensure all tips are thoroughly investigated. The TTPS wishes to make it clear that it would be a dereliction of duty if they failed at any time, to follow through on leads from members of the public, which can help in the solving of a crime or can lead to the arrest of persons involved in criminal activities” Griffith said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Last Tuesday, Sangre Grande music producer Alan Brizan was visited by officers of the Professional Standards after a Facebook spat with Griffith.
Without referencing the incident, Griffith stated: “In one recent social media post, accusations were made by a member of the public which alluded to police brutality and to the Commissioner of Police distorting facts in an investigation. In this instance, the police procedure was followed and an investigation done to obtain the relevant information.”
He said the statement made was tantamount to misbehaviour in public office as the Commissioner and other senior officers were accused of being complicit by distorting facts. Griffith said following the post the Cyber and Social Media Unit passed on the information to the relevant agencies for investigation.
“It is to be noted that in another recent example, the TTPS Cyber and Social Media Unit, upon learning of a certain online post by a reporter, alleging that they had information regarding criminal acts in the criminal justice system, proceeded to seek them out to find out about the information they possessed with a view to take action. However, the reporter declined to speak to the police about their knowledge. The TTPS notes that police forces around the world get good, credible information and intelligence from their Cyber Crime Units and this assists them in targeting individuals.”
The post came hours after the police service warned the public that there is no "Sergeant Hamilton" assigned to the Cyber and Social Media Unit.
The media release stated: “A number of persons have reported that an individual purporting to be a member of the Cyber and Social Media Unit is requesting individuals to divulge personal information to assist in investigations. This is not in keeping with the standard operating procedures of this unit and this matter is being thoroughly investigated.”
The public is asked not to share information about their e-mail accounts, social media accounts and passwords adding that anyone with information on “Sgt Hamilton” is asked to contact the police.