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Trinidad police commissioner promises not to interfere with Buju and company again

By Peter Christopher

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Police Commissioner Gary Griffith strikes a pose with Jamaican reggae artiste Buju Banton after meeting him at the Hilton Trinidad Saturday night. Griffith met with Banton to assure him that the rest of his stay in T&T would be comfortable after officer raided Banton’s hotel room hours before. * TTPS photo

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Hours af­ter de­fend­ing his of­fi­cers’ de­ci­sion to search the ho­tel room of Bu­ju Ban­ton, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith met with the Ja­maican reg­gae artiste to as­sure him of­fi­cers will not in­ter­fere with him or mem­bers of his en­tourage again.

In a re­lease, the TTPS said Grif­fith met with Ban­ton, whose re­al name is Mark Myrie, at Hilton Trinidad to in­di­cate that he (Grif­fith) was aware of the “em­bar­rass­ment, anx­i­ety and in­con­ve­nience” which the ear­li­er search of Ban­ton’s room had caused. Fur­ther­more, the CoP as­sured Ban­ton that the rest of his stay in T&T would be in­ci­dent free.

Grif­fith as­sured Ban­ton that the search was not a per­son­al at­tack on him­self or his en­tourage. Ad­dress­ing the ac­tu­al search of Ban­ton’s room on Sat­ur­day, Grif­fith said of­fi­cers of the Or­gan­ised Crime and In­tel­li­gence Unit (OCIU) had re­ceived cer­tain in­tel­li­gence which led them to search the artiste’s room. The CoP, how­ev­er, said he was con­cerned that the in­tel­li­gence was flawed, as noth­ing was found.

Ban­ton im­me­di­ate­ly took to his In­sta­gram page af­ter the raid, post­ing a video.

“I just re­alised some­thing, I’m chill­ing in my ho­tel room and the cops came to check me. A whole bunch of them say­ing they got a war­rant to search my room and all them kind of stuff,” Ban­ton said.

“How can you ob­tain a search war­rant for a ho­tel room on a Sat­ur­day?”

Ban­ton said de­spite the in­ci­dent he still had love for Trinidad and To­ba­go.

“I just want to know, no mat­ter what they can’t break us we see what’s go­ing on. We just want you to know what’s go­ing on. We see what you’re plan­ning,” he said.

When con­tact­ed mo­ments af­ter the in­ci­dent, Grif­fith con­firmed of­fi­cers con­duct­ed the search and noth­ing il­le­gal was found in the room. The CoP was re­luc­tant to give in­for­ma­tion as to what in­spired the search of the reg­gae singer’s room.

“So be­cause it’s high pro­file the po­lice ser­vice should not be in­volved in con­duct­ing search­es and war­rants?” Grif­fith asked about the raid.

Grif­fith said the po­lice were well with­in their rights to con­duct a search of the singer’s room.

“This is not an abuse of au­thor­i­ty, this is what po­lice do. And this is what we have done over the last 50 years and will con­tin­ue to do,” he said, adding the ac­tion was proof that the po­lice was non-dis­crim­i­na­to­ry in their ap­proach.

Ban­ton was con­vict­ed in 2011 of con­spir­a­cy to pos­sess co­caine with the in­tent to dis­trib­ute. He was re­leased from a Unit­ed States prison last De­cem­ber. This con­vic­tion meant he re­quired an ex­emp­tion from Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty to en­ter the coun­try to per­form for Sun­day’s I Am Leg­end con­cert, which he is set to head­line.

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