President David Granger has made it clear that Community Policing is not a substitute but a supplement to regular policing.
Addressing police officers, other heads of the Disciplined Services, as well as
members of the Diplomatic Corps among others at the opening of the Annual Police Officers’ Conference, the President said that community policing does not mean recruiting an army of vigilantes. He said that it means building a partnership between the Police Force and the residents.
The President said that over the past 15 years the previous administration developed a multi-dimensional approach and tried to create several parallel schemes.
“It is my view that Community Policing is a common good, but unfortunately that concept has been subject to bizarre interpretations over the years.”
According to Granger, some persons trace the concept of Community Policing to the disturbances of 1964 when 176 persons were killed.
He warned against the establishment of Community Policing Groups to displace regular policing, since some of these vigilantes could turn out to be ethnic militias, which aggravate the problem of insecurity rather than alleviate the problem.
“If we maintain that scheme of Community Policing they become exclusive clubs leaving out a large part of the population, which is exactly what happened,”
Granger noted that on the other hand, if Community Policing is inclusive, it can contribute measurably to human safety. He stressed that Community Policing is not a group; it is a process, a practice, a procedure that promotes problem-solving techniques and improves public safety by forging bonds of trust between the police and the public.
“It is not a separate organization; it is a function, not a parallel Police Force, one ruled by Brickdam and one run by Eve Leary. It is meant to be a function, because the Constitution gives the Police Force the responsibility to safeguard the safety of the citizens,”
There were reports that the PPP/C administration through former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and some of his predecessors had favoured Community Policing, since they were never too comfortable with the established Police Force, which has shown support for the then opposition.
President Granger yesterday referred to the Disciplined Forces Commission, of which he was a part, which stated that Community Policing must be brought within the full ambit of the law and must not be allowed to remain lawless or an outlaw. He reminded those gathered at Eve Leary that the Commissioner of Police must bear responsibility under the law for Community Policing, which must support professional law enforcement.
“Support, not supplant professional enforcement,” he declared, to cheers from the audience.
He said that while Community Policing is of utmost importance, everyone must ensure that this function does not become a victim of political policing in which some villages have efficient Community Policing functions and others do not have because of the favouritism or the hostility of the administration at the time.
“Some must not be perceived as protecting special interests and ignoring the common good,” the President said. He stated that in some countries with which he is familiar, Community Policing sees the police as members of the community where they live and work.
“Community Policing correctly conceived and competently conducted would therefore require a change in the way things are being done at present, because there may be a temptation for some Police Officers to become preoccupied with prosecution and punishment rather than in the prevention of crime and the protection of citizens,” Granger explained.
Divisional Commanders have frequently complained of underperforming CPGs, which he believes is because they see Community Policing as a group which is separate and distinct from the regular police.
The president said that one Divisional Commander accused Community Policing Groups of losing focus, and invited them to examine their role and legal status to determine whether or not their mandate was relevant to today’s society.
The President said that if after nearly four decades, the reliability of Community Policing is still questionable, something must have gone wrong. He said the basic question to be answered by the Police Officers of today is: ‘Is Community Policing intended to be a part of a parallel Force under the control of someone else, maybe an elected official at Brickdam or part of the professional Force trained under the command of the commissioner at Eve Leary?’”
According to President Granger, over the years, the concept of Community Policing has been battered.
He noted that several groups have collapsed, while some remained inactive for long periods of time, despite the establishment of a Community Policing Secretariat and a Community Policing Executive body
He assured that his government will implement the long standing plan to reform the security sector.
The President blamed Guyana’s rate of robberies, murder, rape arson and other crimes on decades of deliberate disregard for the essential needs of human safety.
The President noted that the rejection of the United Kingdom’s finance of the Security Sector Reform Action Plan, the neglect of the National Drug Strategy Master Plan and the shelving of several reports including the Disciplined Services Commission and a dozen other consultancies and studies, were not accidental.
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