Dec 10, 2015 Letters
As I write this letter, I am also trying to quell the plethora of thoughts that continue to ravage my mind. A multiplicity of enigmas looms on the mental horizon. When and where will this end? To whom do the average Guyanese John and Jane Public turn to for protection?
The Guyana Police Force in cooperation with the State, the Society and the Citizens of Guyana have according to their mission statement sworn to provide service and protection by means of crime prevention and detection, maintenance of law and order, traffic control, property protection and peace preservation, through the provision of the highest standard of professional police service with absolute integrity and dedication.
The primary responsibility of police officers is to protect the public, but to all sane appearances the public need to be protected from the police. Kaieteur News December 5, 2015 revealed that a serving member of the Police Force reportedly confessed to his involvement in a carjacking ring that recently relieved a taxi driver of his vehicle at gun point. The presence of rogue cops at all levels within the force has been a problem plaguing both the past and present government, and its continuation speaks volumes, not only as confirmation for the public at large that they don’t deserve those who serve, but also typifying the inefficacy and inability of the Force to rid itself of this ongoing, longstanding scourge. Last year, past President Donald Ramotar made pronouncements regarding the introduction of integrity tests within the law enforcement organization, as part of the efforts geared towards stopping corruption within the ranks. Such a proposal seemingly evoked hilarity and was the target of lack of popularity. As far back as 2002, yes over a decade ago during the reign of then President Bharrat Jagdeo, those sworn to protection became the subtle transmitters of a strange infection that eventually aroused suspicion and evoked detection. Revelations during a courtroom trial in the U. S caused the Guyana Police Force Special Police Target Squad to become the target of an investigation, involving Thomas Caroll, a former Vice- Consul of the United States Embassy in Guyana. The latter had solicited the assistance of members of the Tactical Squad of the Police Force, known as The Black-Clothes Police, to act as enforcers, silencing and intimidating anyone who revealed his visa selling racket.
As I have afore-written in an earlier article on the said issue, the security and law agencies within Guyana need to look microscopically closer, at not only their hiring policies but also the integrity of those whom they hire. It is evident that the cancer of corruption that was slowly invading the fabric in Guyana has now fully metastasized. Corruption is rife at all levels. Let us not forget embattled Senior Superintendent of Police Steve Merai who despite all the negative allegations of criminal wrongdoings including links to the underworld was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. Incidentally, Merai was head of the Black Clothes Police, who developed a bloody history. Still at the higher level and taking pride of place is Police Force Sergeant David Leon Lindo who along with another individual was charged with conspiring to murder a popular businessman.
I have arrived at the conclusion that the Force is viewed as a last resort employment organization of sorts, hiring among its members those whose job options are limited in scope. Do not for the briefest of moment labour under the misapprehension that I am of the opinion that only rogue cops exist within the Force. Far from the truth! There are representatives within the ranks who Protect Correct and Serve as the public deserve, and these representatives merit our admiration, respect and cooperation. However, as a bona fide Guyanese, I find it deeply disturbing to read of sworn law enforcement men and women clearly violating their oath, the law, and civil liberties of the people. This seemingly corrupt and undisciplined force is blatantly adding to the woes of the citizens, and like a runaway train no one seems able or capable of stopping it. Let us look beyond the existing imbroglio and view the ramifications of these dastardly acts perpetrated by members of the Force. Needless to say the image of the force has been gravely (but hopefully not irreparably) tarnished, taking in its wake the aspirations of any young Guyanese wanting to become Police officers. Based on current behaviour, prospective entrants may get the impression that if you become a part, you’ll soon master the art.
Guyana is a beleaguered country, but the most pressing need is and one which the current Government cannot afford to ignore is a Police Force consisting of representatives that the citizens can trust. With the recent arrest along with the so many previous others, I am calling on the President, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Chief of Police to give this matter their urgent attention. Again I say a change is not out of range, for if crime is a major problem then policing cannot also be part of that list. The Police Force must be restored, replete with competent and incorruptible representatives thereby standing true to its mission statement. We are still in need of a force of which we can be proud.
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