Jan 13, 2016 News
By Dale Andrews
Senior ranks of the Guyana Police Force may not have to undergo integrity testing as a prerequisite for promotion after all.
Integrity testing for officers before promotion was first mooted by former President Donald Ramotar at last year’s Police Officers’ Conference.
Ramotar had emphasized that the move was aimed at weeding out corrupt persons from the law enforcement agency.
“In future, for appointment to some senior positions there must be some form of integrity testing,” Ramotar had said.
The matter was raised again late last year by former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, who had stated that the pending police promotions were going ahead without much consideration for Ramotar’s “edict”.
But Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud told members of the media that the force has not pursued that initiative with the new coalition administration. He said that the Guyana Police Force itself cannot undertake such an initiative, which he reminded is very costly.
According to Commissioner Persaud, “we don’t get money from the budget to do integrity testing…there is nobody locally that can do it.”
Previously, the government had engaged experts in the field of polygraphing, targeting several agencies, including some sections of the Guyana Police Force.
These included the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), a small group from the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Crime Intelligence and Narcotics Branch of the Guyana Police Force, the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) as well as the Guyana Energy Agency.
Tests were also conducted on several staff at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.
In July last year, several police ranks who were earmarked to be a part of the SOCU, were transferred to other departments. Back then the Commissioner did not say how many ranks took the test, only confirming that it was the first test done within the Guyana Police Force for the year.
This testing was not done as a prerequisite for upward mobility in the organizations targeted. However, several persons lost their jobs after reportedly failing the test, and it is feared that many officers in the Guyana Police Force will not be promoted if the tests are done.
Integrity (Polygraph) testing was introduced in several government agencies and Public Sector entities by the previous administration, which saw several heads and other staff sent packing for failing the test.
In fact, former head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon had announced way back in 2009 that a decision had been taken to institutionalize polygraph tests in Guyana. He had said that the testing would be extended to the operational arm of the State as well as Government Agencies, in an attempt to ensure integrity at the various professional levels. But when asked if the testing will be extended to Government Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, he answered in the negative, saying that policymakers will not be subjected to polygraphs.
The move was condemned by sections of the society, where it was described as discriminatory.
Since the suggestion to have officers undergo the process before promotion was given by the head of the previous administration, the Commissioner said that it has not been pursued with the new government.
The Commissioner said that the government will have nothing to do with the promotion of police officers, which he said is the purview of the Police Service Commission.
“The government doesn’t have a say, except for Deputy Commissioners and the Commissioner. From the appointment of inspector right up to Assistant Commissioner, it is the Service Commission, and they have a say, they only have a say,” the Police Commissioner stated.
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