Speak your minds; the men in uniform must take ‘licks’- Commander Vyphuis tells Kitty residents
By Brushell Blackman
The newly installed Commander of ‘A’ Division, George Vyphuis charged participants at a police outreach programme at the Rama Krishna Primary School in Kitty yesterday to speak frankly on issues they are dissatisfied with in relation to the Guyana Police Force.
The programme was attended by a number of police ranks from within the division and residents of the Kitty area. The former ‘B’ Division Commander said that the programme, which is the first in many years, is geared at addressing the pitfalls of the police force and at the same time find solutions to these. Vyphuis said that such interactions with the public are useful in ensuring that the police, who are to serve and protect, execute their duties in a professional manner. The Commander was adamant that there needs to be a paradigm shift to bring about a change of attitude of members of the force. He said he will be the first to admit that the police force is not doing things that they ought to do. However, he intimated that under his charge such anomalies will change come what may.
He also said that he is aware that there are unfavourable ranks in their midst and he will be working assiduously to ensure that the image of his division is changed.
Vyphuis, a former Deputy Chief Immigration Officer said that the session will chart a course for better policing within the division. To this end he called for the formation of Community Policing Groups (CPG) within certain areas to aid the work of the police. He said that in his many years in the force, he can speak on the merits of CPG working in tandem with the police. He said that the apprehension by some police ranks to work with CPG’s is well documented, but under his watch police officers will have to work with these groups.
He also called on communities to work to address the social decline within the communities among young people. He said that many times criticisms are levelled against the force about unfavourable elements. But he pointed out that these same individuals are product of communities that many of us fail to mould. However, he said the task should be collaborative in taking back the youths from the ills of today’s society.
A member of the Kitty Community Policing Group indicated that there are many areas around the Kitty area that deal in illicit activities. The gentleman said that it is a problem that continues unabated and is affecting the area in a very serious way. He said that he is concerned about his safety and to this end suggested divulging the information in a confidential way. In response, Vyphuis said that he supported such a delivery of information since it will be unwise to compromise people’s safety. However, he said the citizens can be assured that when that information is delivered to the force, the deviant places and people will be dealt with quickly and condignly.
Residents also raised issues of noise nuisance that is plaguing the area. Vyphuis said that the force has zero tolerance on such an issue and as long as this is brought to the force’s attention swift action will be taken.
Another resident said that she has concerns with the mannerism of some ranks when citizens visit police stations. The woman said that the tone and manner in which some police ranks speak leave much to be desired and this has to change if they (police force) are to garner the necessary support from the public.
Vyphuis said that such an issue is not only of concern to him but the top brass of the police force. He said he has been working overtime to get police to observe common courtesies, such as addressing persons properly when they visit stations or approach ranks.
Residents also raised concerns about having difficulties in reaching certain high ranking police officials. However, Vyphuis said that he has an open door policy and persons can visit his office on any day to have his attention. He said while he will ensure that he sees every individual, failing this, his two senior officers will deal with them in his absence. There were suggestions for complaint boxes to be posted at stations as well as a re-think of the issuance of station bail that residents said are sometimes too high for basic offences.
The Commander said that such sessions will be ongoing to ensure that the police force works closely with the public in ensuring better police delivery and better communities.