Mon | Aug 19, 2019

Buju raid to shake up T&T police unit

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Buju Banton
Buju Banton

The Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is to be overhauled after a search of the hotel room of reggae artiste Buju Banton (real name Mark Myrie), who was in the twin-island republic for a show, left members of the police force with egg on their faces.

The Trinidad Guardian reports that Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said the decision by the OCIU to search Banton’s hotel room on Saturday could have started a feud between Kingston and Port-of-Spain.

Griffith announced the revamping of the unit in the wake of the incident, saying while he had been contemplating it before, the embarrassment of the Banton raid made it an absolute necessity.

“This situation that took place recently with the search warrant with Buju Banton, I think again, based on intelligence, what you need to do is make sure there is proper surveillance. Someone obviously dropped the ball. It could have caused a major rift between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica,” Griffith said.

“Strange enough, that is not the focus of the commissioner of police, but I saw it fit to meet Mr Buju Banton personally to look at the situation, and I think the situation was resolved.”

The search caused quite a stir on social media and Banton’s Instagram video about it had been viewed more than 300,000 times up to just after noon yesterday.

Griffith did not go into details about the impending OCIU changes, but promised to reveal all at a press conference on Wednesday.

His statements came hours after Banton’s room at the Hilton Trinidad was searched by several police officers on Saturday night. Shortly after the search, which turned up nothing illegal, Griffith met with Myrie and apologised for the search.

Griffith also sent out a press release after the meeting with Banton, in which he accepted the “embarrassment, anxiety and inconvenience” the search had caused to Banton and his team.

‘SEVERAL IRREGULARITIES’

He indicated in an interview with the Guardian, that he has not yet determined whether the intelligence that the warrant was based on was accurate.

“It’s almost completed, but I am not going to reveal the details yet. By Tuesday or Wednesday, I am going to be holding a press conference to announce the details because it is not just this incident.

“I realised there have been several irregularities and ball-dropping by intelligence agencies in the police service and this here could very well be the last straw,” Griffith was quoted as saying.

Griffith declined to say how many officers would be affected by the pending changes, but said that no action would be taken against any officer involved in the Banton search before the investigation has been completed.

Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister Stuart Young also issued a statement, saying that he has noted the assurances given by Griffith and that the police service will do all that it can to ensure that the remainder of Buju’s visit is peaceful and incident free.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com