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Trinidad’s top cop defends decision to appear on Buju’s stage

By Shaliza Hassanali

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Police Commissioner Gary Griffith appears on stage with Jamaica reggae artiste Buju Banton at the I Am Legend concert at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Sunday. * EDISON BOODOOSINGH

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith yes­ter­day de­fend­ed his de­ci­sion to ap­pear on stage dur­ing Bu­ju Ban­ton’s “I am Leg­end Con­cert” stat­ing if he had not done so it would have re­sult­ed in a strained re­la­tion­ship be­tween T&T and Ja­maica.

Grif­fith’s com­ments came hours af­ter he was crit­i­cised on so­cial me­dia for ap­pear­ing at Ban­ton’s con­cert at the Queen’s Park Sa­van­nah, Port-of-Spain, stat­ing that he was just look­ing for fame and to score points.

Grif­fith, how­ev­er, in a What­sApp mes­sage to the me­dia on Mon­day, in­sist­ed that it was Ban­ton who re­quest­ed him on stage.

He crit­i­cised his de­trac­tors whom he de­scribed as im­ma­ture and ig­no­rant, in­sist­ing that he would not please in­di­vid­u­als who are jeal­ous or have tun­nel vi­sion, but rather those who are pa­tri­ot­ic, pos­sess hu­mil­i­ty and re­spon­si­bil­i­ty and would put coun­try first.

On Sat­ur­day, the Ja­maican’s reg­gae star room at the Hilton Trinidad room was searched by mem­bers of the Or­gan­ised Crime and In­tel­li­gence Unit (OCIU).

In re­sponse, Ban­ton ques­tioned the va­lid­i­ty of the search af­ter the po­lice left emp­ty-hand­ed.

This in­ci­dent, Grif­fith said “was set to cause a ma­jor rift be­tween our coun­try and Ja­maica. This was be­cause of a poor pro­ce­dure by the TTPS in the con­duct of the search. Hence the TTPS may have been di­rect­ly re­spon­si­ble for such a rift,” Grif­fith stat­ed.

Grif­fith has since an­nounced a ma­jor over­haul of the OCIU fol­low­ing the raid.

He said the of­fi­cers did not car­ry out prop­er sur­veil­lance be­fore act­ing.

Hours af­ter the in­ci­dent, Grif­fith met with the reg­gae singer where he apol­o­gised and gave the as­sur­ance that the re­main­der of Ban­ton’s vis­it will be peace­ful and in­ci­dent-free.

Dur­ing the con­cert, Grif­fith promised Ban­ton that T&T and Ja­maica would re­main “al­lies for­ev­er.”

Grif­fith al­so ad­vised those who were more con­cerned about na­tion­al pop­u­lar­i­ty to put their en­er­gies where it can be bet­ter val­ued.

“Had I not done this, re­la­tions be­tween both coun­tries could have been se­vere­ly af­fect­ed.

“Pos­si­ble boy­cotts of our prod­ucts and oth­er pri­vate sec­tor sanc­tions were al­so on the ta­ble. If oth­ers are not aware or care about this due to ego over com­mon sense, I can­not help that.”

If his ac­tions af­fect­ed some peo­ple but helped to bridge the gap be­tween the two Caribbean coun­tries, Grif­fith said he felt sor­ry for them.

“I did what was need­ed to be done. Not to please those who have noth­ing bet­ter to do oth­er than crit­i­cise due to their in­abil­i­ty to un­der­stand the big­ger pic­ture.

“If oth­ers are up­set, then they should re­port it to the en­ter­tain­ment po­lice.”

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