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Griffith on performance report: Police paid for survey – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


HIGH MARKS: Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. -
HIGH MARKS: Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. –

THE Police Service Commission (PSC) has said that contrary to a report in a local newspaper, a survey which gave Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith high marks in terms of public confidence, was not commissioned by it.

This was also subsequently confirmed by Griffith himself who, in an interview with Newsday shortly after the PSC release, said that the Trinidad Guardian newspaper got it wrong in its article that the survey was backed by the commission.

Of that newspaper’s front page story on Thursday, which stated that international market research and analytics consultant Akilah Procope did a survey on its behalf, the commission said: “This assertion is untrue, misleading and negligently made.

“It is apparent that the writer has made the above statement without caring as to whether it is true, or the negative impact that it will have on the independence and integrity of the Police Service Commission.”

The PSC said it does two surveys annually, namely the Public Trust, Confidence and Satisfaction Survey and the Employee Satisfaction Survey. The former was done between October 14 and November 4 last year, while the latter was done between October 12 and October 30.

The PSC also demanded a full retraction and apology by the Guardian for its wrong headline and story.

Contacted for comment, Griffith in a phone interview also said the Guardian’s information was wrong.

“They were inaccurate. I don’t know where they got that from. They got some information from the police service but this poll had nothing to do with the PSC.

“This poll was something that was commissioned by the police service to ascertain our performance and the public’s trust and confidence in the TTPS.”

‘YOU NEED JESUS’

Procope was commissioned by the police service to do the survey after she responded to a tender. Asked about the cost to commission the survey, Griffith asked why this newspaper would want to focus on the cost rather than the results.

“You need Jesus! You know, if the survey was negative that would have been your focus. But because the survey was positive that is not your focus…(instead) let’s focus on why you spent the money and where you get the money from. You really need Jesus in your life.

“Have you looked at police stations around the world where you must do annual evaluations to understand if they are doing the wrong thing and if the public is supporting them? Have you done research to know that this is done all over the world?

“You have a family? You have a family that you are hoping the police would protect and that is the angle you want to use? People like you are what causes (sic) the problems in society.”

Griffith said if the police did the survey on its own there would be an obvious perception of bias. Questioned further by this reporter, he eventually said while he could not give the exact figure paid to Procope, it was less than $100,000.

When Newsday reached out to Procope for an exact cost, she said any and all questions concerning the finances behind the survey should be directed to the police service.

The survey revealed the police service got a 59 per cent approval rating, while Griffith himself got an 80 per cent approval rating.

2 SURVEYS DONE

At the weekly press briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain on Thursday, research consultant Keel County said the survey was done between January 23 to 30. The researchers did two surveys, one on the commissioner and another on the police service.

For the police service survey, the pollsters used a cohort of 1,281 people and for the commissioner’s survey, 1,341 people. Participants had to be over the age of 18, a citizen of TT and not affiliated in any way to the service.

***The researchers used a mixed approach to garner participants. Some respondents were contacted over cellphone calls to phone numbers garnered by the researchers from the Central Statistical Office and others were invited to complete an online survey promoted on social media.

Police officers were assessed in professionalism, visibility, competence, courteousness and responsiveness.

Their highest rating came from their visibility where they got a score of 64 per cent of the cohort being either very satisfied (10 per cent) or satisfied (54 per cent). They also scored high in the area of professionalism, with 56 per cent being either satisfied (49 per cent) or very satisfied (8 per cent).

The police service scored under 50 per cent in the fields of competence, (46 per cent) courteousness (49 per cent) and responsiveness (40 per cent).

For the commissioner, those polled rated him on his contribution to crime reduction, his ability to lead by example, his accessibility, independence and how he represents the average citizen.

The data showed that more than three-quarters of the cohort agreed with the statement that Griffith led by example (77 per cent) and that he was accessible (76 per cent).

Asked if the cohorts was a significant number to determine public perception, County said the researchers had a margin of error of 2.3 per cent and a confidence interval of 95 per cent.

“You have to keep in mind that a sample is a subset of the population and it would be impractical to think that we would be able to survey the entire population of TT. So this is where the confidence interval and margin of error comes in. But even if we were to take 10,000 people it would not necessarily have a different outcome,” County said. ***

‘TTPS BLAMED

FOR EVERYTHNG’

Speaking after the press briefing, Griffith said while a 59 per cent approval rating may not seem high it is a much better perception than some police services garner in developed countries.

“Very few countries in the world you would have a police service where for every two people one would support the police service. On most occasions it would be 14-25 per cent.

“We are increasing. We have made mistakes but we will learn from our mistakes. That is the reason we have these polls.

US analytics and advisory company Gallup, in a poll done to ascertain police perception, determined that for the first time in 27 years the confidence in the US police service had fallen to 48 per cent.

Griffith cited TT’s police response to distress calls and customer service as two of the key areas it would have to develop first. But, he added that some of the things the police are being blamed for is not actually their fault.

“Unfortunately we get blamed for everything. If the West Indies lose a test match the TTPS gets the blame,” Griffith said.

“In this situation the 999 is not under the TTPS, so if we have an ineffective 999 system and calls are being put on hold for 20-30 minutes and there is no response, we get blamed.”

Griffith said the National Security ministry and the police service were working together to streamline the system.

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