THE police on Monday asked the Opposition UNC whether recent criticisms made by UNC senator David Nakhid about them, are his personal views or reflect the party's position about crime and criminals. In a statement, the police said Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith noted a recent video posted on Facebook by Nakhid.
The police said in the video, Nakhid claimed that Griffith said a person in police custody fell off a chair and died. "The facts are that neither the Commissioner nor any other member of the TTPS (TT Police Service) made such a statement."
In the same video, the police continued, Nakhid also claimed that two people in police custody were killed. "This is a very unfortunate statement which suggests that Senator Nakhid has already adjudicated this issue and found persons guilty."
The police also said Griffith is "unaware of what investigative body Senator Nakhid is a member of, since this matter is being investigated by both the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) and the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). They added, "Senator Nakhid is not party to either."
The police observed Nakhid's claims about a police state in TT regarding a situation in which Griffith was forced to contact the PSB after being tagged in someone's Facebook post. "He does this despite the very simple explanation, that the poster made certain claims as 'facts', and those claims suggested the poster had information vital to an ongoing murder and kidnapping investigation."
The police added that Griffith would have been derelict in his duties had he not made a report. The police also said the issue of contacting people who have vital information about an ongoing investigation is not punitive against them but about getting information on the criminals to ensure that criminal activity ceases.
After indicating they would be at fault and need to be held accountable if people accused of crimes commit other other crimes, the police said, "Any one of the false claims would be bad if made by an average citizen, but they are especially egregious when it is made by a senator."
The police claimed Nakhid's past comments suggest he has a personal problem with them. "We understand that Senator Nakhid's issue with law enforcement, in general, may have arisen from his time spent in Lebanon and his incarceration there, which he also spoke about in the video."
The police added, "This grievance is no justification for his unfounded and repeated attacks on TT's police service." The police claimed Nakhid appeared to have a hobby of doing videos to attack the police but never the criminals. "That is a position that is not aligned with most of the nation." The police concluded it is especially important for Nakhid to "understand given the trauma experienced by the death of Andrea Bharatt, which has galvanised a nation against crime and criminals.
Asked to respond, UNC chairman Dave Tancoo said, " I have no comment on this matter at this time." Tancoo referred Newsday to party PRO Kirk Meighoo for a comment. Efforts to contact Meighoo and other UNC officials, including party leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, for comment were unsuccessful. Efforts to contact Nakhid for a response were also unsuccessful.