May 25, 2016 News
Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud is “extremely happy” that former Home Affairs Minister Clement
Rohee has “finally stepped out from his realm of denial” and is praising the work of the Guyana Police Force.
Persaud was referring to Rohee’s pronouncements at a recent press conference hosted by the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
Rohee, a former Home Affairs Minister and General Secretary of the PPP, praised the work of Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum for solving high profile crimes, but implied that the recent successes have put paid to the track record of a former Crime Chief, in what has been seen as a direct reference to the current Commissioner, Persaud.
But in an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, the Commissioner spared no words in suggesting that Rohee’s comments are at best, amusing.
“I am extremely happy that the former Minister is coming out and praising the Police Force. He stepped out from that realm of denial that he was in,” the Top Cop stated.
He said that it is no secret that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has been performing exceptionally well since the appointment of Blanhum as Crime Chief.
This he attributed to the increased high level training of ranks.
Persaud blamed Rohee for stymieing the training process when he was Home Affairs Minister, even
suggesting that Rohee might have been vindictive.
“You know how many fully-funded courses we lost because he (Rohee) didn’t like who was recommended for the course? He did not process them. We needed cabinet approval to leave the country to attend these courses, and they were all stuck at his Ministry,” Persaud told Kaieteur News.
He said that in many cases he had to be following up requests for approval for overseas training with Rohee, but by the time the approval came, the courses would have already started.
Kaieteur News understands that the present government upon assuming office last year accepted a two-year training programme for detectives, under the Canada-based Justice Education Society, following discussions with the administration of the Force.
This has provided extensive training, which is incorporated with a Forensic Video Analysis Unit, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
In addition, the police were provided with investigative software to track the status of investigations; something that is very useful to the CID.
“Blanhum happens to be the Crime Chief when all these things are happening. He is also being guided by the same Commissioner that Rohee is criticizing,” a senior police official told Kaieteur News last evening.
According to Persaud, in his 31-year career in the Guyana Police Force, the organization met its lowest ebb under Rohee’s stewardship as the political head of local law enforcement.
“Don’t come and point fingers at the force, because it’s under your tenure that public trust diminished. Look,
one year after you left, you are turning around and praising the police force. You’re praising one department but the Force is an integrated organization and support comes from all over,” the Commissioner said of Rohee.
Persaud said that certainly, the new Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, has made a big difference in the Force being able to access training overseas training, “and in one year’s time, it has bounced back from its lowest ebb to getting praise from areas that it never got praise from before.”
He made reference to the Babita Sarjou case, for which the CID received the praises from the PPP and other sections of society.
According to the commissioner, the solving of the case has to do with the skills of investigators who would have received specialized training.
“We are not working magic…the Babita Sarjou case is where a suspect broke down under interview….and it has to do with skills of investigators building capacity within our investigating unit… and it’s countrywide. If you look at where these cases are being solved, it’s all over the country. You look at who’s behind it, it’s everybody.
The commanders are involved, the crime chief is involved, specialist units are involved and detectives right where the crime happens are involved as well,” the commissioner asserted.
He explained that most of what is taking place now is institutionalized, so that the removal of any one person will not make a significant difference in the way things are done.
The commissioner recalled that many persons had observed that morale in the force was at an all-time low, a little over a year ago. These included former Commissioner Leroy Brumell, who, when he was demitting office, had pointed out that members of the force were no longer proud to wear their uniforms.
“What he (Brumell) was saying there was that morale was extremely low in the force (at the time when Rohee was the political boss)” the Commissioner explained.
Persaud also referred to a university report (2014) and a Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey which showed that of the organizations surveyed in Guyana, the Guyana Police Force was the least trusted, and of police forces in the hemisphere, it was similarly viewed.
All of this occurred under Rohee’s tenure as Home Affairs Minister, even before Persaud took over the helm of the Guyana Police Force.
The Commissioner said that armed with these analyses, the Force’s administrations set about moving the organization in a direction that encompassed improved community relations, which were aimed at restoring trust in the Guyana Police Force.
“Everyone who reads the newspaper will know the amount of effort we put in to build public trust and to build morale in the Force. A number of structures were changed to achieve fairness in decision-making in the Force, and there were other social crime prevention initiatives,” the Commissioner explained.
The head of the Police Force suggested that Rohee might have been the cause of the lack of public trust in the Police Force. He said that one of the reasons that the force opted not to involve the then Home Affairs Minister in its social crime prevention drive was out of fear of him undermining the process.
“Even when we launched Albouystown… none of them we took him, because of that same public trust issue. To take him would have been a waste of time,” Persaud stated.
“How is it you’re blaming the force for not being trusted by the public when the masters of the Force appear in the newspaper almost every day for unprofessional behaviour?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Rohee had warned that amidst all the successes that the Force is enjoying now, it must at all times refuse instructions and directives of a non-professional and political nature.
Political interference however was a criticism leveled against Rohee when he was Minister of Home Affairs, up to a little over a year ago.
But Persaud shied away from commenting on this issue.
“All I’m prepared to say now is that he (Rohee) knows exactly why he made that statement, and maybe you can ask him.”
With regards to Rohee’s assertion that “the Guyana Police Force now appears to be listening finally to civilians and not believing that they know it all, the Commissioner told this newspaper that that was a direct attack on him.
He stated that in his career as a policeman, he did not find it practical to operate in isolation.
Persaud pointed to his successes in eliminating “trunking” by engaging civilian help while he was head of CID at Brickdam, in addition to establishing links with helpful organizations like the “Zara Group”.
“I have a long history of working with people. I know the value of civilians….I don’t know what he’s speaking to…without public trust, we’re handicapped, there’s nothing we can achieve. We need information to fuel our operations. We need cooperation to get statements for people to go to court in order to successfully prosecute anybody….the things that push them to come on board with us is some trust that they will get justice,” the Commissioner declared.
He acknowledged that there is some amount of animosity between himself and the former Home Affairs Minister.
“He has been critical of me before. Since I was crime chief, I was opposed to some of the things that were happening at the time, the engagement between himself (Rohee) and the Force. He was actually saying that I would not support the government….it had to do with my appointment. He worked as my minister for a year and there were some good things and there were some not so good things,” the country’s leading lawman told Kaieteur News.
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