Feb 16, 2012 Editorial
There is an old saying that one should not put a cat to watch milk. That is a most apt saying when one considers that we have police officers who are supposed to protect us but who appear to be proverbial cat watching milk.
This was most glaring this week when the police arrested some of their own for actually robbing a bunch of criminals and letting the very criminals go free after the robbery, because the actions of the police were nothing but naked robbery.
Within recent weeks there has been a spate of robberies directed at people living in rural Guyana. Two of them occurred in two West Demerara villages and in both cases the haul was significant. In fact, both of these were dealers in jewellery and there was a third in the city. The initial suggestion was that the perpetrators were the same people.
The end result was that the victims lost millions of dollars; someone had enriched himself by leaps and bounds.
We have long known that the police are often aware of the perpetrators of certain crimes. They know the modus operandi of many of the perpetrators. The late Police Superintendent Leon Fraser was known to swoop down on certain locations soon after certain robberies and apprehend the perpetrators. Nothing has changed within the police force.
Indeed, it is heartening to note the number of arrests that followed the commission of robberies in most parts of the country. In West Berbice the police caught a man with some of the loot and two guns as he tried to hide in the Berbice River.
More recently, they arrested three men who were attempting to flee the scene of a crime having robbed a woman. The police caught the men with the loot. So it is that we learnt that the police swooped down on a house and caught some of the bandits with the loot from the West Demerara robberies.
The police had earlier found the getaway car and using the information, traced the owner. It might have been the owner who directed them to the others who had the money stashed somewhere in the area they occupied.
The police are supposed to return stolen property to the owners. This group of policemen helped themselves to the loot. They had become the robbers.
This action now lends fear and distrust among the populace. It also seeks to reinforce the belief that some of the robberies are being conducted by policemen. The cat cannot watch the milk without interfering with the commodity.
When the police met for their Annual Officers Conference last year Commissioner Henry Greene spoke about prosecuting those ranks who were involved in illegal activities. And there were many. These disgraced ranks were then cashiered from the force.
However, this has not prevented others from going the same route. Last year, in the wake of a $50 million robbery at Bartica, a policeman caught up with the perpetrators and collected for himself a motorcar and some $5 million. Word is that he was dissatisfied and he got caught. Some of the killers were arrested because two men were killed during the execution of the robbery.
This policeman knew the perpetrators but he was prepared to lean on the side of criminality. And he would not be the first or the last. Something must be wrong with the system of recruiting. Some may argue that people enter the police force with good intentions but become corrupt through association. We hasten to say that the influences early in life would often determine whether one becomes a criminal or not.
The Guyana Defence Force has not been without its corrupt ranks. One group took a young man off a boat, killed him after robbing him and then disposed of his body. The police did make arrests and even then, a group decided to help itself to the stolen money.
Perhaps the time has come for the police to initiate a special unit to investigate the very force. This is one of the features of police forces in some other countries. It provides for checks and balance and it helps to deter corrupt and unlawful activities.
Meanwhile, one must now wonder about how widespread the level of dishonesty in the Guyana Police Force is. And the people are becoming apprehensive about the very police who are supposed to protect them.
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