Griffith: Police vetted units nothing new

Gary Griffith - Jeff K. Mayers
Gary Griffith - Jeff K. Mayers

FORMER police commissioner turned politician Gary Griffith has dismissed the announcement by the Prime Minister on introducing vetted units in the police service to address rogue elements.

At a public meeting in San Fernando on Saturday, Dr Rowley said the time had come for a vetted unit, paid more than others, with their “integrity intact,” to address rogue police, corrupt politicians, immigration and customs officers.

In response, Griffith said while he led the police service from 2018-2021, he implemented measures to weed out corrupt police officers.

“This was always there. We always had vetted units. We had the special branch, we had the SIU, we had the white-collar crime unit, we had SORT. These people are all vetted, polygraph-tested, then we monitored their finances to make sure that they are not on the take. That is what I had. It was there before.”

SORT, which was Griffith's brainchild, was one of the most elite units, with many officers being retired regiment members. The unit was disbanded last year after the US government raised concerns that it was involved in the deaths of two murder suspects in police custody and could have led to the police service not receiving assistance from the US for training and other support.

The men were beaten to death. Police claimed they were injured while being subdued during their arrests.

In June, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said there was drafted legislation to conduct random “integrity testing” on members of the protective services and other state agencies.

It was Griffith who introduced polygraph tests in 2018 for officers in specialised units. Officers who refused threatened to sue, claiming it was illegal for them to be subjected to random lie-detector testing. Some were transferred out of the specialised units for refusing to be tested.

On Sunday, Griffith blamed politics for the disbanding of the units he created. He said because of his vetting processes, he was able to address the $300 million annual overtime bill while maintaining police visibility, increased public perception and reduced crime rate.

"Trying to put a vetted unit to vet the police – who's going to vet the vetted unit, and then who's going to vet them? It is totally ridiculous.
"The system was there, it was working, and that is why public trust and confidence in the police moved from 14 per cent to 55 per cent. We were cleaning out the rogue elements, and the country started feeling comfortable and began to understand that the police service was not above the law and the rogue elements were being removed."

He said after the disbanding of these units, rogue elements were allowed to "take back over" the police service.


"Griffith: Police vetted units nothing new"

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