Making it clear that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) must regain trust of Guyanese, President David Granger yesterday swore in a new Commissioner of Police, Leslie James.
Assistant Commissioner, David Ramnarine, who had been performing the duties of the Commissioner of Police over the last few months, was not present at State House for the mid-afternoon ceremony.
The position of Commissioner had been one that was closely watched not only in the Police Force, but by the political parties.
It came at a time when the Coalition Government, which came to office in May 2015, has announced a new direction for the Force and after an embarrassing Commission of Inquiry into an alleged assassination of President Granger, highlighted severe shortcomings in the hierarchy.
Yesterday, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, said that he knew of no “adverse” things about James.
He disclosed also that President Granger earlier in the day, questioned about why Ramnarine was not chosen, said that there are “specific reasons” for that Assistant Commissioner not being picked.
It has been the norm that the Commissioner (ag) would be the one chosen.
The air at State House was one of no-nonsense with Granger in his charge to the new Commissioner, and his four new deputies, Lyndon Alves, Maxine Graham, Nigel Hoppie and Paul Williams.
The four were all shortlisted with the new Commissioner, after interviews with Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Attorney General, Basil Williams and Granger himself.
At State House, the President stressed that the ongoing security sector reform is essential with citizens concerned.
He warned that it is the safety of everyone, including women and children, businesses, ordinary working persons and students that are of paramount importance – not the seeming attention on parades and Old Year’s Night parties.
The Government must resist attempts to thwart the reforms of the Force with the new team mandated to promote them vigorously.
According to the President, the process followed to the actual appointments was rigorous in accordance with the Constitution with the culmination yesterday making it a historic day.
He said that following the consultations with the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, he wasted no time in ensuring that the new team starts to eliminate lawlessness.
According to the Head of State, the appointment is a burdensome for the candidate with the office not a toy or a political tool.
Rather, the very security of the state and safety of Guyanese people rests on the Police Force.
He pointed to the appointment of the members of the Police Service Commission and the mandatory consultations with that body for a substantive top cop.
Granger also advised that crime is not about Georgetown alone, with border challenges with migrating Venezuelans, planes landing with contraband, women being abused and robberies.
He was impatient with the presence of “rogue” policemen, acknowledging that Guyana came through a dark decade of the 2000s when several policemen were killed in a crime wave.
It was a time that made him “weep” and should never happen again.
According to the President, the police were badly used, involved with narco-traffickers, tax evaders and smugglers.
However, for all this, these are but a few who gave the Force a bad name.
According to the President, the Force must be cognizant of the rise of trans-national and cybercrime.
In a clear hint what could have motivated the choice of James, the President insisted that one cannot “build a new house with old wood”.
Rather, there must be new materials selected, with the need for people with new visions and commitment.
The Police Force must “break from old, bad habits” and return to principles of good policing.
Meanwhile, speaking on the appointments, Jagdeo said that he was assured that the report of the CoI into the alleged assassination had nothing to do with selection process.
He said that when certain names came up, Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Paul Slowe, recused himself.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, who is overseas, told Kaieteur News that the selection process was done in accordance to the established procedures.
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