Trinidad Guardian:- Police officers moonlighting as “escorts” and using official vehicles to transport partygoers from the popular Soaka fete at O2 Park have come under fire from Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith. The officers have been accused of “galavanting” with official police vehicles and helping to contribute to the huge traffic jam along the Western Main Road yesterday morning, while some of their colleagues were deployed to ensure a smooth flow as motorists made their way along the route.
Griffith was left fuming when he discovered what the officers were doing.
Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Griffith said, “I want to ask the public, do not pay police officers anything on the side as a personal job to be escorted, if it is not done through the proper system through the police station. What is happening with that is it’s causing further traffic congestion. It is unethical and also I am not able to utilise my police officers and vehicles because they are there galavanting and doing personal jobs.”
Griffith said five police vehicles were being used to escort people after the fete. He said the officers would face disciplinary action.
“I’m putting my foot down on the situation. I want my police officers and the vehicles to do policing, they supposed to be out there to protect and serve not to be using the vehicles and the assets of the State for their personal use,” the top cop said.
The CoP said an operation had been set up in preparation for the popular fete from 11 pm on Saturday, which had for many years seen major traffic congestion in Carenage in its aftermath.
“The fete itself was incident free. This is the third phase, what is happening now is what has been happening for years, we have persons when they go to Chaguaramas for events, they spend hours in traffic congestion. So this is not a stop and frisk, this here is to ensure that the Police Service, we are able to assist to get as many people out as quickly as possible,” said the commissioner, who said similar operations will be put in place for major events throughout the Carnival season.
The commissioner said despite many people appearing drunk during the fete, there were not many instances of DUIs as he recognised many patrons opted to hire maxis for the event.
However, he said measures are being put in place to address errant police officers.
“What I’m doing is putting systems in place to measure performance, make all police officers accountable so we are able to monitor through GPS tracking if police are not on patrol (or) if they are not doing what is required,” said Griffith.