The recent swearing-in of Leslie James as the new Commissioner of Police, has sent a clear message that the current administration is intent on a different dispensation emanating from the Force’s hierarchy, and a general change in culture of the institution..
James’ wealth of experience as the former Crime Chief, former head of the Special Branch and former commander of three police divisions has commanded the support of the Opposition Leader, who said that he and his party fully support the Commissioner, who must have the trust of the whole country to do his work.
In addition to James’ appointment, the President elevated Lyndon Alves, Maxine Graham, Nigel Hoppie and Paul Williams from Assistant Commissioners to Deputy Commissioners.
The unveiling of this new police structure is meant to enhance the operations of the Force.
Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine, who had acted as the Commissioner, was not considered for one of the top posts, and has since stated that he will proceed on annual leave, while contemplating his options.
Like many other commissioners before him, Mr. Ramnarine seemed to be the victim of a force with low morale, low self-esteem and rife with corruption, theft, dishonesty, rogue cops and antiquated policing methods. He headed a force in which trust among senior officers was patently non-existent, police stations were in a state of disrepair and the tools of modern technology to fight crime were in relatively short supply.
In fairness to Mr. Ramnarine, he was given the proverbial basket to carry water, thus could only achieve marginal success, despite what he would have felt were his best efforts.
Commissioner James appears to have settled in his new job. He says that recognizes the gravity of the responsibility placed on his shoulders. As stated by President Granger, one of the daunting tasks for Mr. James is to weed out rogue cops and reform an entity which has proven to be highly corrupt at all levels.
The culture of corruption in the force is so virulent that nothing outside of major reform can save it. Such reform must include a complete overhaul. President Granger believes that the current setup will allow for greater specialization and efficiency. Mr. James is fully aware that he will have to insert himself directly into the daily operations of the force in order to stamp out corruption and all other illegal practices, and to develop a friendlier relationship with the public.
While the new Commissioner seems to have the vision and leadership qualities to lead the force, his success would rest heavily on ending the strong-arm tactics used against the public by some officers for personal benefits and others who are inclined to forcibly extract information from the people. Ending these practices could restore public trust and confidence. Solving crime requires – to a great extent – the cooperation of the public, modern policing and better skill sets than those of a bygone era when brute force and blatant disrespect of the citizens were representative of policing in Guyana.
One of the things that has impeded the effectiveness and efficiency of the operations of the force in the past was political interference. Commissioner James must not allow such interference to rear its ugly head under his watch. The force must be protected from the destructive grasp of politicians in order to carry out its functions without fear or favour and improve its image and reputation.
The security of the state and the safety of the entire nation rest on the shoulders of Commissioner James and his senior colleagues who have been recognised by the president and police service commission as having the requisite intelligence, integrity and impartiality. The preservation of peace and the security of the nation are imperative now more than ever before. We must hope that the recent choices made will have the desired effect.
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