Granger urges po­lice top brass to main­tain pub­lic safety, im­ple­ment re­forms

Stabroek News - - Front Page -

Pres­i­dent David Granger yes­ter­day urged ranks of the Guyana Po­lice Force to rise above their ex­ist­ing “chal­lenges” and prop­erly man­age the avail­able re­sources to en­sure that pub­lic se­cu­rity is main­tained.

“…Most parts of the coun­try are ac­ces­si­ble only by air­craft, of which the po­lice force has none; boats, of which they have a few; foot of which they have 4,600 pairs or by horse but the po­lice have to go there,” he said at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Po­lice Of­fi­cers’ An­nual Con­fer­ence at State House, where he stressed the need for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of key rec­om­men­da­tions made by Bri­tish ex­pert Lt Col (rtd) Rus­sell Combe to be fast-tracked this year.

In de­liv­er­ing the fea­ture ad­dress, he re­minded the 183 of­fi­cers in at­ten­dance that while de­mo­graphic and geo­graphic fac­tors place a “bur­den” on the force’s or­gan­i­sa­tional, op­er­a­tional, ad­min­is­tra­tive and hu­man ca­pa­bil­i­ties, it must man­age its re­sources “in or­der to ac­com­plish the com­plex task of main­tain­ing pub­lic se­cu­rity in this com­plex coun­try.”

Granger pointed out that the force is “distributed very un­evenly” through­out the ten re­gions of Guyana and has a to­tal of 73 sta­tions and 26 out­posts. He noted the short­age of hu­man re­sources that the force con­tin­ues to face. “The force’s mem­ber­ship of about 4,600 is in­ad­e­quate and needs to be aug­mented,” he said.

When ap­proached sub­se­quently, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Les­lie James was un­able to say how many more ranks are needed for the force to reach full strength.

“At this point, we don’t have a fig­ure but based on the in­ad­e­quacy. We’ll ex­am­ine it and wher­ever is the need, we’ll pur­sue that,” he told re­porters.

Granger, mean­while, used a part of his 20minute-long speech to re­as­sure ranks that gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous about en­sur­ing there is se­cu­rity sec­tor re­form.

He said that the re­form is be­ing pur­sued and it is ex­pected that these will be aimed at restor­ing pub­lic trust, re­in­forc­ing the force’s ca­pa­bil­ity to fight crime and pro­mot­ing men and women only of the high­est in­tegrity to be­come of­fi­cers.

“Se­cu­rity sec­tor re­form is aimed at im­prov­ing pub­lic trust and con­fi­dence, de­vel­op­ing a stronger or­gan­i­sa­tion, boost­ing the force’s in­tel­li­gence, re­sponse and in­ves­tiga­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pro­duc­ing a more ver­sa­tile po­lice of­fi­cer,” the pres­i­dent said, while ex­plain­ing that it must be ac­cel­er­ated this year for these rea­sons.

He said se­cu­rity sec­tor re­form will re­vise the force’s in­sti­tu­tional frame­work and in this re­gard he noted that the po­lice di­vi­sions are be­ing re­struc­tured to cor­re­spond to gov­ern­men­tal re­gional di­vi­sions.

He said that the re­form will also al­low the force to ad­dress the prob­lems of chronic un­der-fund­ing, lack of ad­e­quate plan­ning and the low stan­dards iden­ti­fied in Combe’s re­port.

The re­port was sub­mit­ted to Granger since Jan­uary last year. When asked about its re­lease, the pres­i­dent as­sured that it will be made pub­lic.

“It’s not se­cret. If it was a se­cret we would have kept it to our­selves but we have sent a copy…I would like to con­firm that but I am very sure it was sent to the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion and it is meant to be laid in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. It’s a pub­lic doc­u­ment. Pub­lic se­cu­rity is a pub­lic re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he told Stabroek News.

Granger told the of­fi­cers and in­vited guests who were gath­ered at State House that the re­form will re­verse the force’s record of poor main­te­nance and the abuse of its move­able and im­move­able as­sets, place greater at­ten­tion to the se­lec­tion and train­ing of its con­sta­bles and cadets; en­hance the wel­fare of its con­sta­bles and subor­di­nate of­fi­cers by im­prov­ing the con­di­tions un­der which some of them live and work, par­tic­u­larly west of the Esse­quibo, and to en­sure pro­mo­tions are based on hard work, in­tegrity and merit.

Granger also stressed that the safety of cit­i­zens, the se­cu­rity of the state and the sta­bil­ity of the econ­omy are the gov­ern­ment’s para­mount con­cern as he noted that they would en­able cit­i­zens to go about their ev­ery­day busi­ness with­out fear. “Such a state it pro­tects cit­i­zens and their prop­erty and en­sures an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for leisure and law­ful eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties,” he noted.

Guyana, the pres­i­dent said, can­not ful­fill its po­ten­tial as a peace­ful and pros­per­ous na­tion un­less it is se­cure and stable. He added that se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity can be guar­an­teed best by a strong po­lice force.

Pub­lic trust

He fur­ther said that if the force is to main­tain pub­lic se­cu­rity, it must en­sure that there is pub­lic trust. He re­minded that bribery is a no­to­ri­ous crime be­cause of its con­tri­bu­tion to cor­rup­tion, thereby un­der­min­ing pub­lic trust. He said that it is for this very rea­son he had dis­closed that one of the qual­i­ties he was look­ing for in a po­lice com­mis­sioner was that the per­son be un­brib­able.

Granger also used the oc­ca­sion to re­mind the of­fi­cers of the role of the Po­lice Com­plaints Au­thor­ity, while not­ing that the ap­point­ment of this body is con­sis­tent with gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to in­crease pub­lic trust in the force. He said that the Au­thor­ity can serve as a crit­i­cal link be­tween the po­lice and the pub­lic by pro­vid­ing the means through which the pub­lic can have its griev­ances against po­lice mal­prac­tice ad­dressed in an im­par­tial man­ner and by en­sur­ing that the force’s ac­tions are in con­form­ity with hu­man rights.

He also high­lighted the im­por­tance of the Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

James, in his re­marks, also al­luded to the re­form. He said the force is at an im­por­tant junc­ture in terms of re­form, given en­gage­ments with coun­ter­parts in the United King­dom. He said that out of this en­gage­ment, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the three main pil­lars–in­fra­struc­ture, train­ing and hu­man re­sources man­age­ment— has al­ready started. He noted that after tak­ing up his new role as Com­mis­sioner, he and his four deputies have met with the staff in all po­lice di­vi­sions in a bid to demon­strate lead­er­ship through a col­lec­tive ef­fort.

James also re­minded that as of the end of last year there was an 11% re­duc­tion in se­ri­ous crimes. Armed rob­beries were re­duced by 13.2%, while there was also a 6% de­crease in road fa­tal­i­ties. He said it is im­por­tant that the force sup­presses crime and vi­o­lence and to en­hance sys­tems to main­tain law and or­der through­out the coun­try.

Mean­while, Deputy Com­mis­sioner Paul Wil­liams, who has re­spon­si­bil­ity for Ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­liv­ered a wel­come ad­dress and re­vealed that train­ing is high on the agenda. He also noted that sev­eral ranks are abroad pur­su­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing cy­ber se­cu­rity.

Among the things that will be dis­cussed dur­ing the con­fer­ence are Gen­eral and Re­gional Elec­tions; the crit­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion of po­lice pow­ers to stop, search and de­tain; the new Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Act and the code for prose­cu­tors; se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions at the two air­ports; pri­vate se­cu­rity, its growth and im­pli­ca­tion; be­havioural sci­ence and the fu­ture for man­ag­ing hu­man re­sources. Wil­liams said that pre­sen­ta­tions on these sub­jects will be de­liv­ered by ex­ter­nal in­tel­lec­tu­als.

The three-day con­fer­ence is be­ing held un­der the theme “Se­cu­rity Sec­tor Re­form Im­ple­men­ta­tion - En­hanc­ing Ca­pac­ity through Train­ing, In­fra­struc­ture and Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment.”

(Photo by Ter­rence Thomp­son)

Pres­i­dent David Granger (seated at cen­tre) with of­fi­cers of the Guyana Po­lice Force shortly after the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Po­lice Of­fi­cers’ An­nual Con­fer­ence ended. Also in the photo are (seated from right) are Deputy Com­mis­sioner Lyn­don Alves, Deputy Com­mis­sioner Max­ine Gra­ham, Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Les­lie James, Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan, Deputy Com­mis­sioner Paul Wil­liams and Deputy Com­mis­sioner Nigel Hop­pie.

Pres­i­dent David Granger speak­ing yes­ter­day at the con­fer­ence open­ing.

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