must come as very depressing news for the Police High Command
that two hardened criminals could escape from custody eight
days ago shortly after making appearances in the San Fernando
The fugitives, Damion Griffith and Richard Griffith, are
described as being high-risk as, between them, they face
63 charges including kidnapping, robbery and possession
of arms, ammunition and drugs.
If the escape of the two prisoners from the San Fernando
courthouse must have depressed T&Ts top police
officers, Sundays escape of a 35-year-old murder suspect
from the Port-of-Spain General Hospital must have thrown
each and every member of the entire police service into
severe paroxyms of embarrassment.
While it may be unfair to indict the over 7,000 hardworking
and honest men and women who comprise the T&T Police
Service for the utter slackness of a few officers, it is
clear in these two cases that the actions of the few have
the potential to bring the whole into disrepute.
For it can only be a disreputable and dysfunctional police
service which allows three hardened criminals to escape
from its clutches in such relatively pedestrian ways.
These were not criminal mastermindsplanning and executing
their escapes after months of secretly sawing at the jailhouse
bars or digging their way out of prison with sharpened chess
These fugitives were not the fabled escape artists of Hollywood
loreClint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz, Papillons
Dustin Hoffman or Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemptionusing
patience and craftiness to outwit their captors.
Our local escape artists have no need for ingenuity or patience
when they are presented with glaring opportunities to abscond
as a result of security which is so disgracefully lackadaisical
How else to describe a murder suspect, assumed to be under
police guard at the hospital, who manages to pick the lock
on his handcuff, slip his guards and jump through an open
And how else to describe the two prisoners in the San Fernando
court who gracefully allow more than 60 prisoners to be
loaded onto the prison vans before them, while they turn
around and walk back into the court from which they came.
This is not the first time that prisoners have attempted
to escape from the San Fernando courts or the general hospital.
Newspapers have reported time and time again the violence
and disorder that often prevail at the San Fernando courts
and there have been many lawyers, government ministers and
even Chief Justices who have lamented the poor state of
conditions, including security, at the courts.
But has anything changed?
While it is true that the problem is obviously larger than
the police service, it is equally true that the guarding
of prisoners on remand and in hospital is a job for the
As long as they roam the land as free men, these fugitives
will continue to be a blot on the already sullied reputation
of the local police. This is because there will be those
who will think, and who will be justified in their thoughts,
that if our police cannot prevent criminals from escaping
in such soft circumstances, then what hope is
there for the common man to report a robbery or a rape or
Save the excuses about the service being understaffed.
Police, redeem thyself.