'Social media has made people experts without facts'

Friday, April 26, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Police Commissioner Gary Griffith Wednesday said social media had become an avenue for anybody to become an expert “without understanding the facts” as he hinted at the possibility of adopting a new strategy in engaging the media in Trinidad and Tobago.

Griffith, speaking at a news conference where he did not take any questions from reporters, defended the “openness” he has had with the media and the general public since taking up office in August last year, defending the decision also to reorganise the various units within the Trinidad and Tobago Service (TTPS) despite criticism in the media.

“What we are doing is putting horses for courses. I have seen the ball being dropped on a few occasions with OCIU (Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit), I have spoken to relevant arms in different agencies in the protective services and what I intend to do is to streamline this.

“By doing it like this it will ensure that there is a better system to measure performance to make each and every person accountable,” Griffith said, adding that he had become aware of the “many experts” making pronouncements without having their facts correct.

“Social media has provided the avenue for anyone to become an expert in any field without understanding the facts and the facts would have shown what we did was in tandem with what was required,” Griffith said as he defended the decision to appear on the stage with Jamaican singer Buju Banton over the last weekend.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will operate in that manner to ensure we do our jobs,” he said, adding that he was aware that it very easy to criticise, condemn and to be negative.

“If it is that we want to continue to be a negative and a lawless society so be it, but I will continue to do what is required to ensure a degree of safety and security in this country. I will not in any way flinch from my duties as commissioner of police.”

He said while persons seem to know what he should or should not be doing as top cop, “what I am not here to do is to please any individual.

“I am here as a commissioner of police for each and every citizen in this country and if the law abiding citizens could understand who the real criminal are, they will understand that by spending all of your time, criticising, condemning, undermining the commissioner of police…that does not help you, it does not help your loved ones, it does not help the community, it does not help your country.”

Griffith said that he had always been open to the media and if persons believe he is being seen too much in the media, “I am now paying the price for being accessible to the media.”

Griffith said he gets at least 50 calls from the media on a daily basis and is prepared to “Stephen Williams himself” a reference to the position that had been adopted by his predecessor in his relation with the media.

“So from now on, if the media have nothing to do with me, you won't hear from me, I have no comment to make. Be careful what you ask for because you might get just that.”

Griffith had also come under criticism from the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) and the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) after the police had gone to a media house here following a comment made by one of its senior executives regarding the people of Tobago.

The TTPBA said that it was seeking clarity from Griffith following last Thursday's police search, adding it found the matter “peculiar and very concerning”, while MATT had said that it had been informed that the police had entered the building without showing the necessary search warrant.

But Griffith said that it was strange that the media organisations had adopted that position when the lawyers for the radio station had been querying aspects of the search warrant.


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