Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2013 Contents A12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, November 23, 2013
National Security Minister Gary Griffith says the
high visibility of soldiers accompanying police on
joint patrols over the past few years has watered
down the impact of the army.
He made the statement in response to calls by both
the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando business asso-
ciations for the joint patrol initiative, especially around
Christmas time, as a preventative crime measure.
President of the San Fernando Business Association
Daphne Bartlet reiterated the call last Tuesday, when
a homeless man smashed the glass doors to two business
premises on High Street.
Griffith said the army has been viewed as an alternate
police force and the fear and shock citizens should feel
when the army intervenes in a heated situation were
no longer present. He said he intends to change that
and restore the army s potency.
Griffith, a former soldier, said it became evident to
him that the army was losing face when, a couple
months ago, soldiers were attacked with stones during
a stormy protest on the Beetham.
"It is the first time in my life, in the 51 years since
we became independent, I could recall the army was
involved in something and people were actually throwing
stones at them," he said.
"That is because the army has become so watered-
down that people are not seeing the difference when
the police are there too when the army turns up. Usually,
when the army would have turned up somewhere,
people would have taken stock, realise, Okay, they have
gone one step higher, it is time for us to take it easy.
"But we have lost that oomph, that extra something
when the army comes in, because they have practically
been put in a police environment, so people are seeing
the army as an alternative police force and that is not
what I want. "I want the police to be on the beat, lock
down the urban areas, streets, cities and allow the army
to step back as a rare echelon and deal with patrols in
the areas where there is a penetration of drugs or
weapons through the Gulf or into our shores, where
criminal elements may be involved in weapons training
in certain areas along the rugged coastlines.
"And, if at any time the alert state increases, based
on a situation that may emanate in the urban areas,
then the army can come in to support the police officers.
But they should not be walking the beat as a police
officer. They are not. That has devalued their impact
and importance, if and when required."
To this end, Griffith said he is moving for a tactical
withdrawal of the army from this arrangement because
the join patrols is only a plaster to a sore. "The sore
is the management and the shortage of police officers,"
Griffith said this does not mean that he intends to
pull this (joint patrol) overnight.
"What I am trying to do as much as possible, is to
minimise the visible presence of the army in urban
areas...If they are going to do patrols, it would be in
He said 50 retired members of the Defence Force
have actually come on strength, full time, to assist in
these operations and in the next year, he intends to
increase the manpower in the police service by recruiting
400 more officers, so soldiers can concentrate on what
they were trained to do.
"Once proper establishment of the Police Service is
provided, then there is no need for the army being
there, because there is no escalation in the alert state
at this time."
Army has lost its oomph---Griffith
Minister Gary Griffith
BOSTON---A chemist at
a Massachusetts drug lab
who admitted faking test
results in criminal cases
pleaded guilty yesterday to
obstruction of justice, per-
jury and tampering with
evidence in a scandal that
has jeopardised thousands
Trinidadian Annie Dookhan
pleaded to the charges yesterday
in Suffolk Superior Court. Dookhan sent the state s criminal
justice system into a tailspin last year when state police
shut down the state Department of Public Health lab she
worked at after discovering the extent of her misconduct.
Prosecutors said Dookhan admitted "dry labbing," or
testing only a fraction of a batch of samples, then listing
them all as positive for illegal drugs, to "improve her pro-
ductivity and burnish her reputation."
Since the lab closed in August 2012, at least 1,100
criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted
because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the lab s
shutdown. Prosecutors from state Attorney General Martha
Coakley s office recommended a sentence of as many as
seven years in prison, while Dookhan s lawyer recommended
a sentence of no more than a year.
Judge Carol Ball said in a written memo that she would
not impose a sentence of more than three to five years if
Dookhan decided to change her plea to guilty. Dookhan s
lawyer, Nicolas Gordon, argued that she made a series of
tragic mistakes and that her only motivation was to be
"the hardest-working and most prolific and most productive
"This is not a woman who ever set out to hurt anyone,"
Gordon argued during a court hearing last month. (AP)
Trini chemist pleads guilty
in drug lab scandal
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