Is TTPS “extorting” public with exaggerated figures at events?! Ex-MoNS blows whistle

“Nowhere in the world, in any business, [does] the provider of a service demand how [many officials] should be hired and the host cannot verify if the officials he hired even arrived.

“The host also cannot advise the provider of what they should be doing [at the venue] as the provider says they are the experts and would decide what needs to be done.”

In the following Letter to the Editor, ex-National Security Minister and Defence Force Captain Gary Griffith blasts the Police Service’s “exaggerated” manpower requests to private bodies to stage events:

As a previous member of the Protective Services I have always tried to preserve and defend its reputation, which is crucial to win over public support.

However, it is difficult to defend the present unacceptable scheme that is taking place, whereby certain individuals in Management in Law Enforcement Agencies virtually squeeze funds from private organisations. They [are] demanding totally unfounded manpower strength for events, even for sport and charitable functions, and the host is obligated to pay, otherwise the Police and Fire Services would not approve a bar license—hence forcing the host to cancel the event, unless the exorbitant [requests] are approved and paid for privately.

Now, it is understandable that these law enforcement officers would welcome opportunities to bolster their deficient remuneration packages, including overtime and extra duties. However, such initiatives should not negatively impact the national community, particularly with the hosting of national events.

The first thing some defending this scheme would say is that the law enforcement agencies are the ones trained and skilled to know what is the manpower requirement for such events. But this is the first misconception—due to fact that few persons in this country [have] knowledgeable security training [and are] able to challenge them on this—as there is indeed a difference between crowd control, which requires police supervision, [and] crowd management.

Being recently interviewed by the Audit Committee [which has the aim of] restructuring the Police Service, I brought this to their attention. It is greatly affecting the image of a body that is established to serve with pride, yet are using an avenue to virtually extort funds from the public, as they tell them: “you better hire this amount of officers, otherwise we would not approve your event.”

It has now reached a point whereby it [might] affect our chances of qualifying for a World Cup football campaign, since the TTFA stating that [one] consideration in moving to the smaller [Ato Boldon Stadium] venue for our next home game—which we must win and need maximum support—from the larger Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain was the exorbitant cost demanded by Police and Fire Services.

As a Security Consultant for the TTFA and TTCB, I have brought this to the attention of the National Security Minister and asked for him to meet with these bodies but, months later, there has been no response.

When every organisation voiced their concern about the ridiculous numbers demanded, the Management of these Law Enforcement Agencies used the red herring of “you never know what can happen and we would become responsible if it does.”

To clarify this matter, I have acted as Security Director for the West Indies Cricket Team at the World Cup T20 in London, represented the TTFA as Security Liaison for away World Cup Football matches, and I am the National Security representative for these bodies at the Official Match Commissioner’s briefing prior to all International cricket and football matches.

And I am involved in meetings with ICC, WICB, CPL, FIFA and CONCACAF officials, who know fully well of the International standard requirement for security. And, at every meeting, I am scolded over the ridiculous numbers, demands and excessive fire power strength that is used, seen and paid for at international events held locally—in total contrast to what is used worldwide.

[…] At a recent World Cup qualifying football match, the Police Management demanded over 150 officers for an international football match, using that same line that “we can never be over secure.”

However, when the next game was changed to a National Event—which meant that the host did not have to pay for the law enforcement officers—there was a reduction of officers by almost 50 percent. And the next game, when it reverted to the host hiring the Police, the number went back up.

So it seems that the “you never know what can happen” approach only occurs when a host is paying for Police and Fire Services.

Likewise, the system for hiring is ridiculous. Nowhere in the world, in any business, [does] the provider of a service demand how [many officials] should be hired and the host cannot verify if the officials he hired even arrived. The host also cannot advise the provider of what they should be doing [at the venue] as the provider says they are the experts and would decide what needs to be done.

What is usually done is [the officers] stand in the best place to spectate at the event, as we all notice when the corridors are packed with law enforcement officers, serving no purpose of Crowd Management other than causing a management problem by crowding the aisles and corridors in contrast to FIFA and ICC Regulations.
[…] Additionally, overt use of weapons by security officials are forbidden, yet the Police continue to demand armed officers with assault rifles, which has caused us to be red-flagged on several occasions by FIFA and ICC.

At any English Premier League game, there would be less than 20 Police officers in a game being attended by over 60,000. What you would see are hundreds of Security Stewards, wearing bright yellow vests, who are trained to handle crowd management—such as scanning, clearing aisles and guiding spectators, which are not be done by Police and Fire Services. On most occasions these Security Stewards are off-duty law enforcement officers employed directly by the host [who can then instruct them and ensure value for money].

Below is a simple table showing the manpower strength at international events with higher risk, to what is demanded locally to prove my point:

Trinidad and Tobago vs USA in Colorado, World Cup football qualifier: Crowd 18,000 with 18 Police Officers and one Fire Marshall;

Trinidad and Tobago vs Mexico in Port of Spain, World Cup football qualifier: Crowd 14,000 with 150 Police officers and 60 Fire Officers;

India vs Pakistan, Champions Cup Cricket Final in London (right after terrorist attack): Crowd 30,000 with 22 Police officers and one Fire Marshall;

West Indies vs Pakistan, cricket match in Queen’s Park Oval: Crowd 3,000 crowd with 90 Police officers and 50 Fire Officers.

[…] It is not for sporting events alone, that this virtual extortion takes place. Recently at a fund-raising dinner for 500 persons in a school compound, the Police stated that 26 Police Officers were needed to watch them sit and eat.

[Let] the Audit Committee of the TTPS properly deal with the remuneration package for Police Officers, so [these events] are not used as the avenues to deal with the perceived shortfall of pay.

[And] these officers should be hired—just as in all major sporting events internationally—directly by the host, so they can get value for their money. Or have these international matches [categorised as National Events] whereby the State foots the bill. Rest assured, realistic numbers would then be used.