Do you know in any country in the world how powerful an ordinary detective or constable in the police force is? If you are heading to the visa interview and you are stopped, do you know the headache that policeman can create for you? If you miss the appointment, there is no guarantee that you will get another one soon. The consuls’ book may be filled for that month.
But you can drive away in order not to miss the embassy time, but what happens if you are arrested before you reach the embassy? You will be placed in the lock-up. It is for that reason a police rank that abuses citizens’ rights must be harshly dealt with. I read where Justice Gino Persaud awarded three Mahaicony residents 8 million dollars over mistreatment by two police ranks.
The story is out of a movie. To recap this tale will engender anger in me. I simply read what was published from the court proceedings. A woman hauled in by these detectives for stealing, told them she gave the money to another lady. Let us call the victim, ‘Lady Lady’ (LL). She denied that the woman gave her any stolen money. What followed was so bizarre that though I respect Justice Persaud, I thought the award was too small for the trauma these two detectives put the family through.
LL, her husband and her mother-in-law were arrested. They spent weeks facing interrogation from the two detectives and spent several days, on different occasions within a six-week period, in the lock-ups of different police stations on the East Coast and had their assets impounded.
LL’s husband went to the station on the request of the two detectives, his car was impounded. He had to answer questions as to how he had so many goats and where he got money to buy furniture. His lawyers described for the court the systematic abuse of the three persons. They were never charged.
All of this happened because a lady said she gave LL some money, which she is accused of stealing from her employer. What if the lady was lying? What if it was a case of malice?
The police, of course, have to do their investigation, but it becomes a nightmare when John tells the police, he gave Mary some jewellery, which he stole from his employer, and because of the accusation Mary’s car is seized and left to rot at the station. There has to be evidential connection between the car and the jewellery. If the police have no such proof, how can they impound Mary’s car.
What I have described here is just a few notes from the court proceedings. There is much more that will sicken you when you read of the abuse these three persons endured. When I read about this story, two things flew into my mind. It is possible that pressure was being applied so the three persons could do what was expected of them, and since they didn’t do that, they were put through the mill. I hope you read through the lines of what I am referring to here. Secondly, it is possible that these two detectives have done things of this nature several times in their careers?
I am curious to know what became of these two detectives. Were they disciplined? Are they still on the force?
In Guyana, there is a gargantuan scope for police abuse in the village system. Seasoned police officers in the villages know the population well. What happened then is a patron-client relation develops. The officers know the rich guys in the village, so they pass money to escape investigation for their crimes. The officers know the thieves in the village so they share in the booty. The officers know the young ladies, some of whom they sleep with. Some of these women can get their police boyfriends to harass persons in the village whom they have grievances with.
One of the methods the police should employ to stop these types of criminalities among its ranks is to have quick rotation among the staff. This is not only banal management principles, it is also commonsense. It did not happen under Clement Rohee, who I consider a congenital fool. It is not happening under Ramjattan who I consider a failed politician.
If you go to any police station from Sparendaam right up to Skeldon, all those ranks in the village stations have been there for years. Such a policy is a recipe for disaster. Villagers will never get justice and villagers will always be at the mercy of corrupt officers. But then again, Guyana will always at the mercy of idiotic rulers.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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