Jan 22, 2012 News
Pull quote: “Why do you think that when you go to a station there aren’t ranks available? It’s because they are not comfortable remaining there, sleeping there and having to do things there which they will be more comfortable doing at home.” – Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine.
A decade ago the Guyana Police Force’s ‘C’ Division (East Coast Demerara) was considered the hotbed
of policing in the country. There were constant patrols facilitated by adequate resources to deal with an unprecedented crime wave which had its base in the volatile lower East Coast Demerara village of Buxton.
Ranks, even if not motivated, were “on their toes”, lest they fall victim to ambushes, which were the order of the day for a period of time. There were always ranks in the barrack rooms of stations in the district, hence they were able to respond within reasonable time to reports of criminal activity.
A decade later, with the crime wave over, the Division appears in a neglectful state and it is taking a herculean effort to return it to its former lofty status.
Since the early 2000s, several Divisional Commanders have graced the division with their presence but in spite of this, it fell into neglect.
Prior to the commencement of capital works, which commenced less than two years ago, police station buildings were in such a state that it endangered the welfare of those who had to be there.
Vehicles are now non-existent, with many of them parked up at a mechanic shop in Enmore, while others are in such deplorable state that the lives of ranks and civilians are threatened.
Adherence to standard operational procedures had also broken down.
All of this led to a lack of motivation and increased frustration from ranks, which began to border on despair.
“All the Commanders would come and do is make you work harder; they never looking at the conditions you have to work under,” one rank had told this newspaper.
The division now has a new commander and he is Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine, who many have described as a “no-nonsense individual”.
Like the other Commanders that preceded him, he is tasked with motivating the ranks to carry out what on many occasions can be described as a thankless job.
But three weeks after his posting to that Division, the effects of his approach towards rectifying the wrong are already being felt.
For starters, he has been dealing with punctuality, improper dress, unauthorised placement of ranks and the misuse and abuse of the
Neighbourhood Police (NP). It was immediately observed that the Neighbourhood Police were being used in capacities where regular police ranks should be.
“Their (NP) place is in the community and yet they are being made to work in the enquiries office doing normal police work,” Ramnarine observed in an invited comment.
Ranks confided in this newspaper that Ramnarine’s approach, while totally different from their previous commanders , is already impacting on them in a positive way.
“He has given us new mattresses, we have a fridge now, and we are getting gas stoves to replace the kerosene ones in the barrack rooms. He even gave the ranks money to put in their cellular phones,” one rank observed.
This newspaper also understands that there are plans to place television sets in every barrack room in the division, in an effort to make ranks as comfortable as possible while they are away from home.
When asked about this, the Commander explained that this is to ensure that ranks remain at stations whenever possible so that there can be proper responses to reports of criminal activities.
“Why do you think that when you go to a station there aren’t ranks available? It’s because they are not comfortable remaining there, sleeping there and having to do things there which they will be more comfortable doing at home,” he explained.
Ramnarine said that prior to his arrival in the Division as Commander, he summarized the various views that would have been expressed time and again at senior management meetings in terms of the general performance of the Division.
Strangely enough, the views that were expressed were compatible with what Assistant Commissioner Ramnarine had observed in his frequent travelling through and around the Division since his arrival.
“The stark reality is that, and here I don’t wish to be sarcastic or disrespectful to anyone, the division needed strong, aggressive and decisive leadership,” Ramnarine told this newspaper.
“In my humble opinion, and well aware that self-praise is no recommendation, my career thus far in law enforcement has been characterized by strong and aggressive leadership,” he added.
Those who know Ramnarine would agree that he has always held onto the principle that once something is right, important, necessary, and will bring about improvement, he does not need permission to do it – a principle that often times brought him into conflict with many, including persons in government.
So far his several meetings with the officers under his command in ‘C’ division, as well as his visits to the various police station, have given him confidence that the ranks are excited and want to be part of his improvement plans.
“I am also well aware that members of the public have some level of impatience with the fact that we seem to take too long to respond adequately and appropriately to reports. I ask them to be patient since it is clear to me that motivation in the division was absent in any reasonable supply and therefore we in the Division will improve our performances as time goes on,” the Divisional Commander asserted.
He disclosed that already the division is receiving a significant boost from the business community, where hundreds of thousands of dollars are being paid by private businessmen to repair the many non-functioning vehicles.
Since his arrival, Ramnarine has been addressing the vexing question of the granting of station bail to persons who are in police custody.
Many persons have complained that their freedom depended wholly and solely on unscrupulous ranks who are in the habit of soliciting cash for their release.
“We have agreed that the question of bail for especially serious crimes, needed to have some form of stringent control. Otherwise it was to a general extent left to very junior ranks,” Ramnarine stated.
He said that as Commander he will not be satisfied if the ranks under him are not comfortable.
“I want to make the station their second home. After all, it will make my work much easier,” Ramnarine said.
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