Each time I am in downtown Georgetown, I observe several officers of the Guyana Police Force riding around on bicycles, which would normally be something that is commendable and reassuring for our citizens in terms of improved security in the commercial center of our capital. However there seems to be a couple of things that are odd about their modus operandi.
First, these officers seem much more keen on chasing and stopping vehicles to check on the validity of the vehicle fitness certificates, insurance certificates and drivers licences, a function of officers of the traffic department rather than that of a bike patrol unit.
In other countries bicycle police officers are used to traverse congested roads, pursue fleeing suspects through a variety of environments, and for quietly monitoring or following suspects. The ability to arrive on a crime scene first or sneak up on individuals engaged in criminal activity makes bicycle police officers instrumental in patrolling the downtown areas of cities. They also provide greater visibility and accessibility in crowded urban areas like parks, concerts or malls, allowing officers to immediately respond to emergencies including providing first aid to injured or ailing members of the public and arresting and detaining criminals until transportation can be arranged. But not so here in Guyana.
Even more perplexing is their attire. While Bike Patrol officers wear bike helmets which help protect their faces, heads, and brains if they should fall, our officers are wearing uniform berets and forage peaked caps, instead of using bike patrol shorts that are lined with chamois pads they use long uniform trousers in this blistering heat.
Instead of using Coolmax polo shirts that are fade resistant and made with moisture management fabric and reflective tape, they are instead using standard uniform shirts and worse they place over those shirts special law enforcement tactical vests with specialized pockets of the outside and lining on the inside which probably makes them ten times hotter rather than wearing tactical duty belts. Not to fail to mention their footwear, they can be seen pedaling around in heavy duty military boots instead of using athletic bike patrol shoes.
Never can they be seen wearing tactical eyewear though they are exposed to spills and splashes, long days in sunlight, projectile objects and people who simply don’t cover their mouth when they cough. This is in spite of the fact that eyes can be a portal to diseases like Covid-19. Research also suggests that prolonged ultraviolet (UV) exposure can cause painful eye injuries and contribute to cataract formation and other long-term injuries.
What is bewildering is the fact that these special bicycles that they ride, 170 of them along with accessories, were donated by the United States Government along with specialized bike patrol training provided in Las Vegas, Nevada, yet one has to wonder why the force could not have outfitted them properly to do their jobs professionally and with pride rather than having them suited up in conventional uniforms with archaic equipment, riding around like in the old days before policemen used motorcycles and cars.
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