Brace yourself for heightened aggression from the police! That’s the message I received from the recent television interview with Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith about the alleged Police killing of five young men in Laventille. To paraphrase this very powerful citizen – anyone who objects to his approach either has not been impacted by crime or benefits from the criminal elements. Additionally, this leader resorted to sarcasm and ridicule to respond to legitimate concerns being raised by the interviewer. In a direct jab at his predecessor’s failure to impact the level of crime, the CoP questioned: has it really worked well for the last few years? In a direct ridicule of the grandmother of one of the slain victims who said that the boys held their hands up, the CoP described her as “Super Granny flying through the air”. Super Gary is confident that he has 95% of the population backing him so feels emboldened to insult citizens.
If I were his boss, I would muzzle him for the next 90 days and only allow the Communications Officer to speak to the Media. My first reason for muzzling him is that we have not really seen the impact of his gun talk as yet. As I write, we are counting the number of murders committed for the weekend. Commissioner Gary needs to give his plans time to work before boasting about how he will peg back the criminals because the evidence is that so far, he has not.
My second reason for muzzling him is that he has to be taught what to say. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind is the saying: “not all talk good tuh talk”. His boast that he will fire anyone caught in wrongdoing simply confirms his ignorance of process and procedure. He cannot do so without following a specific procedure, but the Police Association will teach him that lesson. You may say, “That is not what he meant,” but a true leader would have responded from a position of knowledge. That kind of activity is best dealt with by your actions and not your statement of intent.
My third reason for muzzling him is that as a person in a position of leadership, sarcasm cannot be your “go to” approach. Sarcasm as a literary device is often used when intended to mock or insult. The Commissioner of Police should not be intending to mock or insult any member of the public, particularly the media and, in a media interview. His response “Oh Jesus Lord Fadder…” was simply out of place for a leader.
If the CoP’s boss takes my advice, he would have Gary work tirelessly on finding out exactly what happened with the killing of five youths in Laventille and provide an account to John Public. That would demonstrate his commitment to being accountable. His second task would be to identify a collaborative approach for members of the public to work with the police on providing the information they so desperately need and, thirdly I would make the process of promotion transparent.
And while Gary is on lock-down, his boss needs to remind him of the old Apache saying: “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand”