Hard as I try I really can’t see what the fuss is about with Assistant Commissioner (AC) David Ramnarine’s posting to the Department of Development (DoD). If indeed the GPF is moving the in the direction of a modern police force then I can only applaud a very tactical move in placing Mr. Ramnarine in what is undoubtedly a very strategic position.
I took a look at the GPF (draft) Strategic Plan 2010-2015 and noted that its key priorities over the five-year period include advancing modernization around five core areas of development namely, people, performance, partnerships, infrastructure and operational priorities.
If those priorities do not fall within the ambit of the DoD, not to mention the intellectual capacity of Ramnarine, then I don’t know what is.
But I need to repeat something I said eighteen years ago when I remarked somewhat presumptuously to my fellow newly promoted gazetted officers among whom was Ramnarine, that “some will call your assertive style arrogant and abrasive, but you must stand by your convictions.”
I agree with the thinking of a former senior police commander who recently said to me that what the GPF needs is more officers who are willing to turn adversity in its myriad guises into events which define their character. My personal gem shared by my late drill instructor Sergeant ‘Jack’ Elvis was that one should be like a cork which bobs back to the water’s surface when the hand is removed.
When I examined the role that a DoD can play in reshaping the police service I can more readily conclude that we are in good hands under David Ramnarine’s stewardship particularly in light of the criticisms from upstanding citizens in recent times. In that regard I would just like to refer to a letter I wrote during 2010 which suggested that in a vehicle stop for a traffic violation situation which is the more common police-citizen contact, law traffic officers could use an approach called ‘verbal judo’ which is taught to police officers in the U.S. and which was developed by Dr George Thompson a former police officer and professor of English.
Such an approach using pre-determined steps and scripted phrases has been considered highly effective in that it deflect insults, shows empathy, and gains compliance without the attendant aggravation to which we have grown accustomed.
Of course, in the face of actions and attitudes which obstruct the officer in the efficient execution of his/her duties it requires no stretch of the imagination to see the likely outcome of police-citizen encounter.
If we are to be fair then we need to accept that some scions in society are not averse to flaunting their importance in the face of ‘hapless’ police ranks and threatening them with everything but eternal damnation. Imagine – if you will— that I am a policeman with barely enough secondary education under my belt to muddle through life combined with an (un)healthy dose of ‘ignorance’ coming into contact with these people.
Obviously the outcome would depend on your commanding officer’s strength of professional conviction or lack thereof. Therefore, I do believe that the DoD in conjunction with the Felix Austin Police College (FAPC) could probably do a bit of research on the efficacy of verbal judo and its impact on police-public interactions at traffic stops and other engagements.
I believe that you would concur that the DoD can play a more meaningful role in the GPF’s development if its (DoD) occupants move beyond seeing themselves as victims of a repressive and archaic unwritten punishment policy. There is the anecdote that after realising that the 1996 posting of an officer to the arguably notorious Tactical Services Unit was not getting the desired results (i.e. a broken and penitent individual) because he was using his off-duty to teach academic subjects to, and encouraging the personal development of junior ranks the administration of the GPF decided to upgrade the punishment by transferring him to Berbice. Among the products I can see resulting from the DoD’s input under AC Ramnarine are not exhaustive and include a defined and more realistic leadership/succession planning process which puts paid to the whole recycling idea, alleviate potential issues of stagnation and develop the operational and strategic capacity to maintain a seamless transition.
Next, could be the development of support services to officers and ranks which address issues that could affect the efficient and effective conduct of their duties including coping with organizational change; relationships and family issues; emotional stress; health, wellness and lifestyle issues; trauma and critical incidents; stress with work; career issues; alcohol and substance misuse; and coaching and mentoring for subordinate officers and officers.
Another area which is of major concern to me has to do with the need for a fair and an open method of personal and professional capacity development of officers and other ranks through a range of education and training, secondments, and clear operational career path guidelines to enhance the members’ skills and abilities and contribute to the future resource needs of the department.
The DoD can contribute to the design of a performance planning and review policy aimed at linking the evaluation and development of individual performance with the goals and objectives of the GPF thus creating an environment which allows for the development of the full potential of its members for the benefit of all citizens.
Finally, although the strategic risks are described in the GPF plan I observed no risk mitigation factors.
Patrick E. Mentore
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