The devil is in the details

Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith. -
Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith. -

ASKED ABOUT the cost of a survey procured by the police service to assess his favourability rating, Commissioner Gary Griffith invoked the name of Jesus Christ.

“You need Jesus!” Mr Griffith told our reporter. “You really need Jesus in your life.”

Alleging the focus of the query was to deflect from the high rating he received in the survey, the commissioner further remarked: “You have a family? You have a family that you are hoping the police would protect? And that is the angle you want to use? People like you are what causes the problems in society.”

Mr Griffith may have got high marks from the public, according to the pollsters he hired, but he gets a low score for his outburst.

The cost of the survey – reportedly done by an international market research and analytics consultant – was not only a standard query addressed to a public official, it was a reasonable and relevant question.

This is more so given the suggestion of duplication. The Police Service Commission (PSC) – quickly distancing itself from the police’s survey – said it already does annual surveys of its own, including a Public Trust, Confidence and Satisfaction Survey. Those exercises undoubtedly have costs of their own, and it is hard to justify such waste in the current economic crisis.

Further, the commissioner is surely aware of the ongoing raging debate on public procurement reform. That debate has highlighted the issues of wastage and value for money, as well as underlining how the tendering of state contracts remains contentious.

Who paid for the poll and how much they forked out also goes to the question of the independence of the exercise, particularly after the incorrect attribution of the poll by another newspaper to the PSC, an independent constitutional body.

Cost is also relevant to the commissioner’s own complaint, mere days ago, that the police are saddled with $182 million in debt.

Despite Mr Griffith’s protest, there is no reason why the focus cannot be on multiple details: the outcome of the survey and its cost, as well as who commissioned it.

Indeed, all three matters would ordinarily be considered by the reasonable man.

So would the validity of the ratings reported by these surveys, in a country which is still terrorised by a shockingly high level of crime that affects everyone, every day, as they go about their lawful business, hoping not to be targeted by murderous bandits or caught in crossfire, and becoming just another number, a casualty of a crime that will likely never be solved or punished.

Mr Griffith should be preoccupied with reducing crime if he wants high approval scores, not indulging in personal attacks on journalists who are simply, politely and diligently doing their job.


"The devil is in the details"

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