The current state of affairs arising from the suspension of the Parliament places a burden on the already stretched security forces. First and foremost, members of the Guyana Police Force will be expected to be on some form of heightened standby in the event that they are required to respond to any situation of public disorder. Of course, the question of an appropriate non-lethal response to incidents of public disorder should always be paramount during operations of that nature.
Considering the Linden debacle and subsequent events, it is by no means a certainty that the police have learned from those episodes. As far as common knowledge goes, the Force apparently has not even attempted to dissect and analyse public disorder events to try to arrive at a universally acceptable way of dealing with similar issues which may arise in the future.
Impossible as it seems, the administration appears comfortable with the status quo, so much so, that all talk about reform and modernization is just that, all talk.
Nowhere are the Guyanese people offered a level of comfort with an image of what the new and improved police service will look like and how it will approach its constitutional obligations. From all indications, it will be an uphill task to makeover institutional attitudes, develop competencies and capacities.
But the foregoing strayed from the seminal point and that is that members of the Force will be hard pressed to retain any semblance of what little professionalism exists in trying circumstances that are likely to emerge from this recent constitutional brouhaha.
Speaking to the question of officer safety, a serious look needs to be taken at the equipment ranks are issued when they are forced into conflict situations. For one, with the possible exception of the newly formed SWAT unit, the bullet proof vests worn by the ordinary ranks are substandard.
Another thing, the frequency with which ranks in pursuit of alleged offenders shoot up innocent bystanders begs the question of what type of requalifying firearm exercises they are exposed to and how regular these are organized. The current practice of paying money to even office bound ranks who do not qualify makes a mockery of the original intent behind the annual payout of ‘shooting money’.
What is particularly lacking in the Force today is the requirement to requalify; nowhere is it apparent that drivers, technicians, et al are expected to perform at a specified level of competence that is evaluated. It would be interesting to be told what the civilian component has recommended or is actually doing in this regard.
Still on the question of officer safety, it would behoove ranks to be aware that they should comport themselves professionally at all material times. It had been claimed that the indiscriminate slaying of policemen during the last decade was driven in part by a perception that the police had gone overboard with their propensity for extra-judicial killings. It would be interesting to know if the Force has learnt its lesson; but from the reports at hand, this does not seem likely considering the Mahaicony, South Road, Fish Shop, and Agricola killings to name just a few. All of these occurred in this decade.
The knowledge that police members have to leave their families and not know when or if they would return, should serve be a great motivator for them to act professionally, keeping their motto in plain sight at all times. Moreover it is incumbent upon families of police persons to urge them to respect the rule of law in the performance of their duty. The fact that seemingly escapes most of us is that the problems that affect the wider society, distress everyone in varying degrees, but disturbed we all are whether police or civilian or soldier. Therefore even the police families are depressed by the current stalemate; the unrelenting cost of gasoline; the unreasonable taxation; the speeding minibuses; high cost of living; poor quality of life etc.
What this means is that when our police go out there all gung ho under the command of an officer favoured by the political administration with no regard for the human and other rights of the Guyanese people, they are unwittingly diminishing the just struggles of the people and putting themselves and their families at risk and at the mercy of an uncertain regime.
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