Trinidad: 40 cops transferred for refusing polygraph tests

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Trinidad: 40 cops transferred for refusing polygraph tests
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (CMC Photo)
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (CMC Photo)

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Fif­teen of 16 po­lice of­fi­cers at­tached to a sta­tion in the South­west­ern penin­su­la who re­cent­ly re­fused to take a vol­un­tary poly­graph test have all been trans­ferred.

The trans­fers were made by Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith, who con­firmed the ac­tion yes­ter­day, say­ing he in­tends to clean up the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice.

Grif­fith said any of­fi­cer who re­fus­es to take the test was ei­ther cov­er­ing up for their fel­low of­fi­cers or turn­ing a blind eye to il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty and crim­i­nal el­e­ments.

How­ev­er, ad­mit­ting it was not manda­to­ry for an of­fi­cer to be poly­graphed, he said, “What I find very alarm­ing is that many of the po­lice of­fi­cers are will­ing to poly­graphed or be asked any ques­tion at any lev­el to get in­to the of­fice. But when you get in­to the ser­vice they sud­den­ly have rights and don’t want to be poly­graphed,” Grif­fith said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Ex­plain­ing the rea­son­ing be­hind his re­cent move, Grif­fith said be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of spe­cif­ic units and their lo­ca­tions of­fi­cers must be poly­graphed to be part of them. He said some of the units fall un­der Spe­cial Branch and the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team in­volved in spe­cial op­er­a­tions.

He said for years the pub­lic has ac­cused the po­lice ser­vice of be­ing in­volved in the il­le­gal en­try of weapons, drugs and hu­man traf­fick­ing in the south­west­ern coastal ar­eas of Ica­cos, Erin and Ce­dros. As such, he came up with a sim­ple way to deal with the is­sue, where he asked of­fi­cers to vol­un­tar­i­ly be poly­graphed on ques­tions.

The ques­tions asked the of­fi­cers if they re­ceive mon­ey for the il­le­gal en­try of weapons and drugs in­to the coun­try, if they are aware of those in­volved in the il­le­gal en­try of drugs and guns and if they have been op­er­at­ing as po­lice of­fi­cers to pre­vent crime from hap­pen­ing.

“It was amaz­ing to know that a whole po­lice sta­tion, 15 of them, they all re­fused to be poly­graphed on a sim­ple straight­for­ward mat­ter. From cap­tain to cook,” he said, adding the sta­tion has 16 of­fi­cers and this would raise eye­brows.

The 15 of­fi­cers ranked from WPC and PC to in­spec­tor and sergeant.

Grif­fith, how­ev­er, re­fused to pin­point the sta­tion, say­ing based on the fact that the of­fi­cers re­fused to be poly­graphed, they would not re­main in those sta­tions.

“They would be re­as­signed to oth­er lo­ca­tions. I am the Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice. I de­cide where of­fi­cers are post­ed any­way, any­time and any­where,” Grif­fith said.

“It is my call. I want per­sons who I could put my head on a block on…to know that they are not com­pro­mis­ing the se­cu­ri­ty of this coun­try and af­fect­ing their fel­low of­fi­cers. They have to be trust­wor­thy.”

The of­fi­cers were giv­en four­teen days to trans­fer.

De­spite this, Grif­fith said the test­ing was not to find any­one guilty.

“It may very well mean that sev­er­al of them are aware of what is hap­pen­ing and they are not op­er­at­ing in the prop­er man­ner be­com­ing of a po­lice of­fi­cer, be­cause of ei­ther try­ing to cov­er their fel­low of­fi­cers or turn­ing a blind eye,” he said.

In light of this de­vel­op­ment, Grif­fith said, “I have heard that some of them in­tend to take le­gal ac­tion. I look for­ward to any­one tak­ing me to court and chal­leng­ing this. I have court clothes.”

He said he in­tend­ed to adopt the same ap­proach for of­fi­cers in the North East­ern ar­eas such as Mara­cas Bay and Las Cuevas, adding he will find a way “to clean up the po­lice ser­vice.”

Grif­fith said he was will­ing to take the same poly­graph test the of­fi­cers re­ceived when it the process is ful­ly im­ple­ment­ed, al­though he could not give a time­frame for this.

“My job is to open the Pan­do­ra’s box and clean up what­ev­er prob­lems they have. For years we have heard about po­lice com­pro­mis­ing their po­si­tions.”

Con­tact­ed on the is­sue yes­ter­day, T&T Po­lice Ser­vice So­cial and Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary, In­sp Anand Rame­sar, said the trans­fers of 40 of­fi­cers from the coastal ar­eas to in­land sta­tions at Point Fortin, San­ta Flo­ra, Siparia, Fyz­abad and Oropouche had come to their at­ten­tion. He con­firmed the trans­fers came as a re­sult of their re­fusal to agree to take vol­un­tary lie de­tec­tor tests.

Rame­sar said he was not sure who en­quired from the of­fi­cers whether they should vol­un­teer for the tests, not­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive was “not con­sult­ed” on the mat­ter.

“We are in the process of en­quir­ing as to who ap­proved this process and whether or not it has the au­thor­i­ty of the CoP. It does raise some is­sues in terms of process, it does raise some is­sues by of­fi­cers in terms of whether or not they were fair­ly dealt with?”

He said, how­ev­er, that it was dif­fi­cult to say if the trans­fers were based on vic­tim­i­sa­tion since trans­fers are a nor­mal process. Rame­sar has since asked the of­fi­cers to put their com­plaints in writ­ing, fol­low­ing which they will meet with Grif­fith.

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  1. Yes Mr Gary Griffith thumbs up to you for taking a stand to clean up the police service I know it's not a easy task but someone has to do it and I applaud you.May the Lord continue to keep you in this venture .

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