Sep 22, 2023 Letters
Please allow me to publicly pay tribute to a nobleman in the field of law enforcement, a stalwart in the history of the Guyana Police Force, and Guyana’s youngest and most accomplished Crime Chief, the late Cecil Alexander “Skip” Roberts.
A man of excellence in service, he benefitted from perennial humility, public trust and confidence, and effective, self-carved techniques in management/team-building that helped to develop his charisma and achieve his objectives.
Those of us familiar with his life know that he was not born great or had greatness thrust upon him. His vision, humility, innovative management techniques and accountability to the Guyanese nation led to his greatness. He worked to achieve it!
Because of his enviable humility, “Skip” could have easily walked among royalty, and step down to interact with ordinary people. That was the nature of a man who, through his disposition to people, taught us lessons.
In his own words, when he was catapulted into the CID as an Officer, he knew very little about detective work and was not as knowledgeable as his most junior subordinate. In his own words, he had to learn from those under him. In his own words, he had the commitment to build a competent and unified team, and had to show respect and compassion to his men. In his own words, he had to be surrounded by true, trusted professionals. What an expression of humility and vision!
Through his boundless humility, he used his experience from his in involvement in diverse sports to appreciate the value of every member of his team. “Skip” always spoke laterally or directly across to even his most junior subordinate, instead of condescendingly (from top to bottom). Speaking harshly to anyone was averse to him. Such humility helped to build his charisma and develop the trust and respect of those whom he led and even served.
“Skip’s” involvement and achievements in multiple sports expanded his social contacts and helped to make him a popular national figure, People easily gravitated to him with trust and confidence. And so, during his tenure as Crime Chief, he frequently received a groundswell of information on criminal activities from various parts of the country.
From time to time during my stints in Linden, he used to directly send me notes for me to look into bits of information. I used to mobilize the best men available and promptly deal with every assignment. Whenever I was successful, my heart was pleasantly warmed. Knowing that information coming from him was always credible, I used to be dejected if my efforts were unsuccessful. When I had to update him on my negative findings, his comforting words were, “That’s a part of the game. We can’t win all.” I could always count on his support.
“Skip” could be counted on to look after the welfare and well-being of his men. In November, 1980, I was a rookie detective at CID Headquarters, Eve Leary when he summoned me to his office and said, “I want you to go now to the Passport Office and pick up your passport. You are going to Canada next week on an extended assignment.” I was taken by surprise and had mixed feelings. My wife was expecting our fourth child within a few weeks. I told him that I was concerned about the welfare of my family. He assured me that everything would be taken care of. He did not renege; he ensured that my family was looked after during my prolonged absence.
One night in June 1983, bandits shot me during a foot patrol in Linden. The doctors at Mackenzie Hospital were contemplating amputating my injured left arm. The vigorous objection of my wife and him (“Skip”) caused the doctors to abort their plan. Subsequently, he played a major role in enabling me to get treatment overseas. Today my hand is intact and properly functioning.
Cecil Alexander “Skip” Roberts’ legacy is bequeathed to all. It is in a package marked “Doing It My Way.” The contents are labeled:
Humility, Team Building, Innovation, Charisma and Trust. Let us use that legacy to good effect.
Nothing in writing is available in the public domain on “Skip’s” life and accomplishments. With the support of his family, a small group of former detectives has launched a project to research his life and accomplishments. The former detective’s community, the public and “Skip’s” former friends are invited to share their memories, thoughts and views on him. Contact can be made with Samuel Roberts on +1 407 810 6435, Henry Chester on +1 929 430 9991, Nicholas Suffrein on +1 592 624 8783, Cleveland Chester on +1 646 405 0775 or Rennie Inniss on +1 929 370 9362. Let’s work together towards accomplishing this task.
Cecil Alexander “Skip” Roberts successfully did it his way. The nation should be proud of him. I’m grateful for his influence on my life and his services rendered to Guyana. It is my hope that “in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore. God be with you, “Skip,” till we meet again.”
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