AFTER months of quiet, behind-the-scenes investigations, two high-ranking police officers from the Firearms Division of the police were arrested on Tuesday in relation to alleged criminal conduct in that division, including pocketing large sums of money for fast-tracking the application process for firearms users licences (FULs).
Senior police sources confirmed that the two, a sergeant, and a member of the First Division were detained by the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The two were said to be still in custody on Tuesday evening assisting police in their investigations.
Formal investigations commenced after retired Appeal Court Judge Stanley John submitted a report to the Police Service Commission (PSC), which had appointed him to investigate allegations of corruption in the Firearms Division.
A WELL-OILED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE
In his report, John described the system by which FULs are given as a “well-oiled criminal enterprise.”
The report, published in the media, said the system for processing FUL applications was dysfunctional and paved the way for corrupt activities. The report also named officers and businessmen involved in activities at the Firearms Division.
The report said more than 4,030 provisional permits, 6,832 FULs and seven firearm dealers licences were issued during the three-year period while Gary Griffith was police commissioner, as compared to a total of 3,812 FULs, 285 provisional licences and three firearm dealers’ licences issued in the previous ten years.
John’s report indicated that people got FULs approved after less-than-thorough investigations. Of concern too, was the trend that some applicants were given permission to own multiple guns
While these are provided for in the Firearms Act, the report showed that the licences were issued within days, and in some cases on the same day as the application for the special licence (to own more than one gun).
GRIFFITH: SO WHAT?
Contacted for comment on Tuesday, former commissioner, now political aspirant Griffith said he was was not concerned over the arrests of the two officers, saying police have been arrested and detained for questioning before.
“We have seen dozens of police officers arrested and suspended for all sorts of things on a regular basis, because that happens in all police services around the world. Every single week, police officers are arrested and suspended. So why should it be a concern for me today?”
Griffith scoffed at the arrests, claiming the entire investigation was politically motivated.
“After over a year – or 18 months practically – when (Stanley) John spoke about a well-oiled criminal industry, one would have expected hundreds of police officers to be arrested by now.
"But up to now, only two have been held for questioning. Even when I was commissioner we held more officers for criminal activities pertaining to firearms.
“This shows that when politicians decide to interfere, to hand-pick people who they know and who have no investigative training (to conduct enquiries) they would ultimately put their foot in their mouth and embarrass the police service,” Griffith said.
Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob could not be reached for comment.