Yes! Gary Griffith is confidently setting himself up to deliver a spectacular bicycle kick to slip his ball nimbly past a hapless Selection Committee and virtually guarantee his return as Trinidad and Tobago’s Police Commissioner for a second term.
However, one major question looms as Gary goes for goal, namely : who will pass the ball to him?
Certainly not “GG3” the rookie who was not able to qualify for the last World Cup team despite his father’s active presence. Wife Nicole may be charming and intelligent but that’s not expected to logically help in any moves to make a champion footballer.
So what about Prime Minister Rowley who actually led the charge to bring Gary front and centre in the last selection process? This is now hardly likely in light of a number of off-the-wall comments about the nation’s CEO by the Commissioner during his tenure.
Griffith’s relationship with his audiences suffered further when he callously described the nation’s young criminals as “cockroaches”, as did his links with the legal fraternity whom he advised as to what laws they should pass to help him forward his career.
And let’s not talk about his various run-ins with the Media.
In short, while Gary Griffith will be facing the selection team with a long Resume’ backed by an impressive record, he’ll still have to employ all his skills and more, to elude the strong defence line-up that’s facing him.
But there is a great deal to be said on his behalf.
At the heart of the issue would be Griffith’s enthusiasm for the game- on and off the field of play. In this connection, the Commissioner has been moving every obstacle to ensure the provision of the facilities which his men have always been calling for to give their best service.
He has been a strong sponsor of youth and, although there have been reports of awkward overlaps in influence and authority, the Commissioner’s overall sincere enthusiasm and passion for “the beautiful” game cannot be faulted.
Which is where one Lasana Liburd has become an unwanted thorn in the Commissioner’s back side since, as a social media publisher whose word is taken very seriously, he has produced material exposing the dark side of Gary who appears much more dangerous and possibly deranged for all the world to see.
To many who know his “raging bull” side, Griffith appears to have let his Superman image swell his head, complete with an obsession with illusory star ratings on par with the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister himself.
On one such occasion – after had gone way too far – Griffith publicly apologized to the Prime Minister for comments on police jurisdiction on private property
“It was in no way appropriate for me to make such a comment that could allude to the comments I made to the Prime Minister .Since then, I have written to the honourable Prime Minister, I have apologised and I wish to take this time openly to let the public know that I do apologise for the comments I made,” he said.
The two were at loggerheads over whether police could enter private property where occupants could be in violation of COVID-19 regulations.
Things heated up when Griffith called Liburd on the phone and strongly criticized articles that he found offensive.
Following on a report that the team’s Assistant Coach Kelvin Jack had “bouffed” Gary’s son on game day, the Commissioner called Liburd on June 7 and, in a “livid” mood, told him:
“You’re always writing all kinda thing that your sources tell you from in the camp,” Griffith told me. “So how come you didn’t write that the assistant coach, Kelvin Jack, virtually assaulted my son, eh? How come you didn’t write that he had his hand in my son’s face?
“How come you ent say anything when the British High Commission is now investigating a complaint against him for assault?”
What was even more interesting was Griffith’s 360-degree turn of mood when Liburd quietly asserted himself
“I assured Griffith that I would check it out and I would publish anything newsworthy which I could support. Whatever I found out from my investigations, I would run”, Liburd duly reported.
It was the Commissioner’s turn of mind that surprised the “Wired868” Publisher.
Liburd stated. “Griffith’s tone softened immediately. He was only telling me for my own knowledge, he said. There was no need for me to investigate.”
In an interesting turn on the same day (On Monday 7 Jun), Liburd said he received a message from the Commissioner with a photograph of Jack captioned, ‘The face of unemployment’
According to Liburd:
“In the past six months alone, I received one legal letter, two threats about being made ‘a person of interest’ in a police investigation and countless messages and phone calls from the police commissioner—helpful source today, furious critic tomorrow.”
Liburd pointed out:
“Griffith’s constant ‘good cop/bad cop’ role-playing—I lack the qualifications to deem it ‘schizophrenia’—first took a dark turn in January when a Facebook user named Deonarine Deyal commented on a story involving his son: ‘What Gary Griffith III doing on that team because the coach got a firearm in record time’.
“Griffith insisted that I should delete the comment.”, Liburd stated. “ I refused on the grounds that it was posted on Facebook rather than on my website and I did not know enough about the matter to determine whether it was libellous.
“Within hours, I received a phone call from a man who identified himself as Corporal Perez of the Firearms Unit. He said the police commissioner had told him to question me based on information I had on an alleged bribery matter involving the commissioner.”
Griffith, according to the self-declared ‘Corporal Perez’, was directing an investigation into his own supposed bribery.
“The lawman insisted that he had been ordered to speak to me, despite my protests that I had no idea who Deyal was and knew no more about his claim than anyone else who saw his post on Facebook.
“There was a get-out-of-jail clause; the supposed Corporal Perez said I only had to say that I refused to cooperate and, since he could not compel me to speak, he would have to inform his boss that he could not do anything else. And then the commissioner would be forced to sue me as a private citizen. The officer said Deyal chose that option”
It was interesting how Griffith responded to Liburd’s rejection of the offer by “Corporal Perez”
“I declined his offer, explaining that, as a journalist, I did not want to be on the record as refusing to assist a police investigation—even a silly, contrived one. So since I had no intention of going to the police station, the supposed Corporal Perez would have to come to see me.
“I never again heard from the supposed lawman and I have no idea how he represented my official position”, Liburd stated.
In his passion to perform, Gary Griffith stepped on a number of toes including those of the nation’s societal care-givers who are concerned about the fate of the marginalized youth who he called “cockroaches”
Griffith has also sought to dictate to the Parliament and the Judiciary what laws must be passed to ensure him being able to do a fine job without any respect or regard for bureaucracy and lawyers including the Law Society and the business community.
On the other hand, the public fully acknowledges he is a man who leads bravely from in front, an approach which has certainly raised the respect for him by his police force and a new pride in their own jobs even as he has been fast tracking their promotions, perks, new uniforms and making their professional work one of deep dedication.
As it is for now, Gary Griffith’s chances of being reinstated to continue his work as Police Commissioner clearly hangs in the curious balance of politics, administration, professional integrity and, of course, the beautiful game of football where the goal post can move at any time.
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