Recent survey by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) revealed that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is the least trusted law enforcement body in this country. The survey indicated that Guyanese also lack confidence in the Police and its ability to fight crime. But what is even more disturbing is the fact that the US Embassy-initiated survey also indicated that citizens do not believe that the Police Force here conducts itself professionally or appropriately. The truth is, the findings of the survey are not remarkable or surprising in any way, as it is a known fact that the level of confidence reposed by citizens in the law enforcement entities here is relatively low if not non-existent.This is particularly true when one considers the level of crime and criminality prevailing in our society as each day citizens are murdered, victims of other heinous crimes, burglaries, rapes and domestic violence. The Police’s response is most times slothful, uncaring, unprofessional and unhelpful. Recently, patrons at an East Coast hangout spot witnessed gun-toting ranks of the Police Force swoop down on the location. Persons were ordered out of the establishment as it was past the two o’clock curfew despite the fact that the doors to the business were closed and staff was in the process of cleaning up. Patrons were shoved and one CID rank dressed in plainclothes who identified himself as “Saul” began harassing those in control of the business before pulling a chair from under someone who was still seated. The other ranks dressed in brown clothes continued to threaten those present, as if they were demanding a bribe or some sort of inducement before departure. When they left, emotions ran high as patrons voiced their concerns over the manner in which the Police executed their ‘duties’. Stories were spoken of how other ranks have collected bribes and other inducements at other places when dealing with issues linked to robberies, murders, traffic offences. In general, there was a general distaste for rouge, unprofessional and corrupt ranks.It is simple incidents like these that impact public opinion and perception of the entire Police Force as they are not isolated or specific to one policing division. It is therefore laudable that Government through the Public Security Ministry has exhibited no tolerance for ranks who are engaged in unprofessional conduct in any area of their work as they are responsible for the ‘bad name’ the other ranks receive because of their deeds. But the Government has to do much more to create a paradigm shift and culture transformation within the force. The Police Commissioner must ensure that his commanders read the riot act and understand fully that it is their responsibility to ensure that these ranks are disciplined whenever there are reports of such unprofessionalism and thuggery.Surely, the ranks must understand too that they are not a law unto themselves and therefore whenever there are breaches of the law on their part that they will be offered no protection – not from their colleagues nor superiors. While it can be argued that the ranks are within their right to enforce the curfew laws, it can also be argued that they could spend their time patrolling the streets in pursuit of criminal elements who are usually wreaking havoc on innocent citizens. They could spend their time solving the many unsolved murders that are staining the pages of the press while at the same time working very hard to rebuild public trust and confidence. It is necessary for the Force’s administration to conduct periodic sessions with junior and middle management ranks on professionalism, ethics, effective communication and integrity. This will go a far way in addressing the basic shortcomings that result in the Force suffering immensely whenever an evaluation is done of its performance and the level of public trust. In addition, urgent efforts at reforming the Force must be undertaken. Those proposals made by former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee must be implemented immediately and should not be cast aside unless the new Government has new ones.
10 February 2020
20 January 2020
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