The Albouystown project by the Guyana Police Force though a commendable initiative merits some comment moreso with the ongoing financial contributions from the corporate sector. In the extant context of current day Guyana it is important to determine that the original concept and intent of the intervention is not diluted by competing considerations. First of all it would be good if the GPF can enlighten the general public of the intended outcomes and anticipated impact(s) of this project. What we have been supplied with so far is a list of actions to address certain social deficiencies, and to the development of a closer relationship between the Albouystown residents and our law enforcement officers.
It is reasonable to assume that the GPF would have been observing a process prior to proposing an intervention of this nature and embarking on what surely is an ambitious undertaking. These would have included having an understanding that community support meant that most people in the community saw the resolution of safety and development issues as extremely important to the well-being of the community, and would be willing to accomplish this as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible.
It means then that the proponents from both sides in the intended relationship would have agreed on the methodology and interventions to apply in the disparate social and economic perspectives coexisting in that enclave. Additionally, the Force would have ensured that the operatives from the police side are culturally prepared to take on their predetermined role with the probable intention of altering the traditional troubled relations between the police and residents of depressed urban communities. Moreover and just as importantly, both sides in the partnership would have confirmed the readiness of the target community to play its part in the problem-solving scenario through feedback.
Even the skeptics would be amenable to what amounts to an incursion by a body that is still seen in some quarters as the enemy, if clear and specific objectives are offered. It is no stretch to argue that law enforcement requires more strategic thinking in the planning and execution of community policing interventions. Therefore, it would not have escaped the architects of the Albouystown initiative the necessity to be able to deal with situations of conflicting perspectives which have the potential of impacting negatively on execution. This last can boost the credibility of the intervention enormously and gain wider public support especially if an issue reaches a point where it can no longer be ignored, and likely to affect a critical number of people. It is good to hear the policy makers offering their support for the expansion of this initiative into other communities. It therefore means that the police now have an opportunity to review their current initiative and accompanying interventions to learn from its lessons before venturing further afield.
It is generally accepted that although the GPF may lack capacity in certain respects, it has sufficient resources at its disposal to follow through on the commissioner’s promise to work towards helping individuals and groups acquire skills and knowledge. But this will pass for nothing if the infrastructure for community activism and action to deal with important safety and security issues is not developed concurrently. By engaging in community assets inventory the GPF will be that much more equipped to identify its own and communities’ resources, understand their respective strengths in a quest to make participatory democracy which gives voice to everyone, the normal method of community-policing decision-making. In that way community leaders and youths (possibly former gang members) could become self-sufficient, able to identify and solve its own problems through action steps which could say to what extent these actions will occur; what the envisaged changes are and when and how long they are expected to occur; who will carry out the changes; the milestones for the intended changes; and the resources (needed to carry out these changes to create short-end wins to allow Albouystown and the police to celebrate success and continue to move the project forward.
It is to be hoped that the police would have the good sense to cede control of the initiative to the community as far, and as soon as possible, and to not attempt to exercise dominance.
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