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Trinidad: 140 police officers to undergo lie detector tests

By Radhica De Silva

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Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (CMC Photo)

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith says with­in the next two weeks over 140 po­lice of­fi­cers who work on the bor­ders of the south­west­ern penin­su­la will un­der­go poly­graph (lie de­tec­tor) tests.

Grif­fith, who met with the of­fi­cers two weeks ago, ex­plained that the test was not an in­di­ca­tion of guilt but was meant to de­ter­mine whether the right set of peo­ple are placed in the zones where drug traf­fick­ing, gun run­ning, smug­gling and hu­man traf­fick­ing take place.

As Grif­fith moves to strength­en man­pow­er in the zones, he not­ed that the poly­graph test would be a key in­di­ca­tor to de­ter­mine whether of­fi­cers will re­main work­ing in the penin­su­la.

“All of­fi­cers on the bor­der will be asked two ques­tions: Do you re­ceive re­mu­ner­a­tion for il­le­gal weapons and guns and hu­man traf­fick­ing? And are you aware of the in­di­vid­u­als in­volved but has not op­er­at­ed as a po­lice of­fi­cer to bring the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice?” Grif­fith re­vealed.

He de­nied, how­ev­er, that the re­sults of the test will lead to the ter­mi­na­tion of any po­lice of­fi­cer.

“The ques­tions are not aimed to dis­ci­pline any of­fi­cer but just as they would be poly­graphed to get in­to an elite unit, the ques­tions are there to en­sure that the right per­sons will be in those po­si­tions in the penin­su­la,” Grif­fith said.

He added, “If any­one is a rogue of­fi­cer and is placed in a po­si­tion that he is not suit­ed, he can cost the life of his fel­low of­fi­cers.”

Grif­fith said when he first raised the is­sue of poly­graph tests, the ma­jor­i­ty of po­lice of­fi­cers were very com­fort­able with the re­quest, but then mis­in­for­ma­tion set in and caused con­fu­sion.

“Ini­tial­ly, less than five per cent was not pre­pared to be poly­graphed. Some­one got a bright idea to spread a false ru­mour that if they fail to take the test they will be dis­ci­plined and re­moved from the TTPS. That was to­tal­ly in­cor­rect and did not em­anate from the Com­mis­sion­er,” Grif­fith re­it­er­at­ed.

He said if red flags are raised af­ter an of­fi­cer takes the tests, then fur­ther re­search will be done to see if the of­fi­cer need­ed to be re­as­signed.

“I met with all of these of­fi­cers about two weeks ago to clar­i­fy their con­cern and they were pleased to un­der­stand my thought pat­terns and most of them agreed to do the test,” Grif­fith said.

He not­ed that the ba­sic poly­graph will com­mence with­in the next two weeks.

“It will not be an av­enue to ad­min­is­ter guilt but it is be­ing done to en­sure there is no breach in the bor­ders by pos­si­ble rogue el­e­ments in the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice,” he added.

Grif­fith al­so agreed there was a need to do con­tin­ued psy­cho­me­t­ric test­ing among all of­fi­cers.

“I agree that there must be a con­tin­ued eval­u­a­tion to en­sure that of­fi­cers pos­sess the same char­ac­ter traits as when they en­tered the TTPS. Peo­ple change and cir­cum­stances change and this is an av­enue that we could use to clean up the Po­lice Ser­vice,” Grif­fith said.

Last year, 40 of­fi­cers were trans­ferred from the south­west­ern penin­su­la of Erin, Ce­dros and Ica­cos to in­land sta­tions at Point Fortin, San­ta Flo­ra, Siparia, Fyz­abad and Oropouche, af­ter they re­fused the poly­graph test.

T&T Po­lice So­cial and Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion (TTP­SWA) pres­i­dent Michael Seales then ex­pressed his sup­port for the trans­fers and urged Grif­fith to poly­graph all 7,000 of­fi­cers in the TTPS. Apart from the poly­graphs and rou­tine psy­cho­me­t­ric tests, Grif­fith al­so plans to boost man­pow­er in the penin­su­la. High-tech drones will al­so be utilised to mon­i­tor the bor­ders in re­al time.

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