Kaieteur News – I have noticed that some policemen driving around in their fancy vehicles are stopping cars on the road and instead of approaching the driver with whatever requests they have, are sitting in their vehicles while the driver of the stopped vehicle has to exit his or her vehicle and approach the parked police car to find out why the police stopped them in the first place.
This is not standard operating procedure. The recommended manner for a patrol – whether or not driving in a luxury vehicle – is for them to signal by means of a siren that they wish the driver of the vehicle to pull over. When this is done, the driver of the stopped car should never exit the vehicle.
This is a dangerous practice since a police vehicle noticing that a driver who has been pulled over has exited his vehicle may come to the wrong conclusion, either that the driver is about to make a run or is about to do something dangerous.
Thus, the correct procedure is for a policeman from the patrol car to cautiously approach the stopped car and to then speak to the driver of the stopped car, who should at all times remain seated with his/her hands where the officer can see them.
This positioning gives the rank a distinct advantage in the event of any hostility.
What we are witnessing however in Guyana are police ranks in bulletproof vests having motorists run to them as if the motorists are their children. This should not be, and I hope that the Commissioner of Police makes it clear to his officers about the standard operating procedure when pulling over a vehicle.
The police ranks must be the ones getting out of their car. They are not on a joy ride and they must not have the drivers of the stopped vehicles running back and forth with the various documents that they are requesting.
It is equally important at this time, also, that the Commissioner of Police makes an unambiguous statement concerning whether traffic cops can hold on to the driver’s licence of a motorist that they have stopped. It seems to be quite common these days that the first document that many traffic ranks request when they stop either a motor car or a motor cycle is the driver’s licence.
Many traffic ranks have a habit of holding on to this licence and ordering the motorist who may have breached the law to go down to the station. The holding of the licence is used to ensure that the person turns up at the station.
There are some drivers who, when they are asked to accompany a traffic rank to the station, can be rude and bold enough to advise the police officer that he cannot travel down to the station in their vehicle. If the rank is on foot, it would mean that in this case he would have to walk down to the station so as to file charges. Most motorists, however, would not object to the police rank travelling in their vehicle because they do not wish to rile the officer lest he be less sympathetic in dealing with them. However, there are some motorists who are not willing to transport the police officer. Why lend support to someone who in any event is going to throw the book at them?
This is one of the reasons why this column has insisted in the past that the police must walk with their ticket books and should issue the charge sheet right on the roadway. This is going to save a great deal of time and inconvenience since in many instances the person to be charged will have to spend hours at the police station waiting for his charge to be written up when he could have simply been issued a ticket on the road.
There is also the problem of detention of vehicles. I hope that the Commissioner of Police, someone who has done an excellent job since he took over, would take steps to reduce the unnecessary detention of vehicles, particularly public transport vehicles, since it results in a financial loss to the owners of those vehicles (and police officers are also owners of minibuses) when their vehicles are detained.
(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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