By Jarryl Bryan
Tears flowed yesterday as friends, family and colleagues paid tribute to the late Assistant Police Commissioner, Balram Persaud, at his funeral service.
Among the anecdotes, it was highlighted how warm hearted and how willing the fallen police officer was to give a helping hand to friends, family and his subject Minister.
In the almost two hour long service at the Police Sports Club ground, Persaud was described as a ‘24 hour a day, 365 days a year police officer’.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan also paid tribute to the man who gave him a helping hand when he first became a Minister.
“It is true when you come into a ministry as I did, not knowing very much about it,” Ramjattan related. “(You need) the services of someone who is going to be there. One of the first things he said to me was, bro, you know what you have to do? (He did this) because we were very close friends. And I told him hardly, but you are here.”
Ramjattan noted that with Persaud’s help and the help of other senior officers supportive of him, his duties were made that much easier.
“That is something we must pay tribute to this man for. Because he never held back (his help), as some others I have come across would. I have seen (that attribute) with other officers and senior ranks, sharing that knowledge and that is an attribute that we must have.”
Using Persaud’s example, Ramjattan urged other officers to share their knowledge and experiences and not to hold back.
“(Do this) so that we can make greater, that new generation that is coming to power,” he said. “And (Balram) did that very well and he was very well respected for that.”
He also recalled Persaud’s intensity in everything he did, even when it was just having a drink with friends. Ramjattan related that he saw Persaud as an asset to Guyana, something that is shown by his rise in the ranks of the GPF.
“This is an extremely sad occasion,” Ramjattan continued. “(Made) all the more sad because of the fact that when I spoke to Balram, he would indicate to me that (he) would soon be going. His retirement was coming fast upon us and he had started indicating what he would be interested in doing.”
“I indicated to him that I would be there for him and he indicated to me that yes, I would always be there for him. And I remember, through all those trials and tribulations, I was his Attorney. And since that time I have seen in him, a character that was extraordinary and intense.”
Ramjattan also noted that Persaud loved to celebrate life and was also an avid reader and philosophical thinker, who was always willing to impart this knowledge.
Ramjattan decried the fact that the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) had taken the lives of so many senior police officers. It is a reference to the 2012 accident at Harlem, WCD which claimed the life of then Police Commissioner, Henry Greene. Additionally, in 2013 Assistant Commissioner Derrick Josiah succumbed to injuries from a car crash on the WCD.
Childhood friends of the Commissioner
Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud also paid tribute to his former Deputy, who exercised the functions of Commissioner of Police in times when the Top Cop was out of the jurisdiction. Persaud spoke of his connection with Balram Persaud, which went back to childhood. According to Persaud, they both went to the same school and would meet years later in the GPF.
“He joined the force in 1984 and would have had his first promotion, having completed the standard officers’ course in 1986. He acquired great competence and knowledge in his work and has been a courageous officer which saw him promoted rank after rank.”
“Balram was very open to both members of the public and his subordinates, a feature for which he will be remembered,” Persaud related. “He was very approachable and dealt with concerns in a professional way. He will also be remembered for being a very jovial individual, for even in the midst of great stress, Balram will have something funny to say.”
Persaud noted that Balram Persaud, throughout his career, would have had to make very difficult decisions, which would have put him in turbulent situations. He noted that Persaud weathered these crises, save for the last and tragic one.
“He will be remembered for a long time and he will be missed, especially among his precincts. He was a good man and may his soul rest in peace.”
Balram Persaud’s eldest son, Andre, a police officer in the United States of America, also paid tribute to his father. He recalled hearing of the accident and believing that it was not life threatening until a conversation with a local surgeon on his father’s condition brought everything to a standstill.
“My heart jumped in my chest,” he related. “I was on the highway and I pulled over. I broke down in tears and I called my station and told them I could not come in, I would be gone for some time. He had so much planned for us, but unfortunately this accident happened. I was by his side to the last and for that I am thankful.”
Balram Persaud’s wife, Christine, was tearful as she also described the last days with her husband as some of the best days together. She noted that in the hospital, he maintained his independence. But at the last, he was surrounded by those he loved.
“He raised his head and he said to me come, Christine, come and stand by my side, please be by my side. My husband is with God and I know he is a wonderful person. He devoted his life to helping people.”
At the end of the service, Persaud’s casket was passed through a full guard of honour and was accompanied out the sports club ground by a full ceremonial escort.
His body was subsequently taken to the Ruimzeight Foreshore, WCD, for cremation.
Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud died on February 23, succumbing to injuries he sustained in a car crash over two weeks ago on the Schoonard Public Road, WCD. In that accident, he lost control of his car, which toppled several times before slamming into a utility pole.
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