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PCA responds to Griffith plan:

 The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) yesterday responded to comments made by National Security Minister Gary Griffith on the upcoming launch of the Virtual Police Officer (VIPO) initiative, citing that the Authority “is the only duly-constituted body to deal with complaints by citizens about corrupt activities by the police”.

Minister Griffith spoke about this new initiative, which he said would fall directly under him, “so that people will feel safe to report information that can be turned into evidence”.

“We are putting special mechanisms in place to weed out rogue elements in the Police Service,” he added in an interview with the Sunday Express.

According to the PCA, however, it is “an independent body established by law to, amongst other things, investigate, monitor and audit complaints of allegations of criminal offences involving police officers, police corruption and serious police misconduct.”

The PCA added that it is “concerned that these statements made by Minister Griffith appear as though the Minister is ‘side-stepping’ the legally authorised body, namely the PCA, which is statutory-mandated to deal with corrupt police officers. In addition, Minister Griffith seems to be transferring onto himself a responsibility for which the PCA was specifically established by the Parliament”.

The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) release added that while the Authority “does see merit in some of the measures proposed by the Minister, with respect to the VIPO initiative, there is a real risk that there will be an unmerited intrusion into the powers and functions of the PCA. The Minister of National Security must be mindful of the statutory bodies established to deal with law enforcement in the country”.

“In order to more effectively eliminate police corruption and serious police misconduct, the PCA continues to strongly advocate for legislative amendments to the Police Complaints Authority Act, to give its investigators the powers, privileges, authorities and immunities needed to bolster its role in civilian oversight of law enforcement in Trinidad and Tobago,” said the release.

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