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Just last week, while President Bharrat Jagdeo felt compelled, in the face of outcries from villagers along the East Coast, to openly express disappointment over the attitude of some members of the security forces in combating crime, policemen were being hauled before the courts on various offences in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.
Too often, members of the police and army in Caribbean Community states hit the headlines for criminal offences that include gun smuggling, drug trafficking, extortion and bribery, kidnapping and robbery. Very shocking crimes.
It would have been inconceivable up to say 15 years ago, to be reporting and commenting on such criminal behaviour by members of the security forces of Guyana and other CARICOM countries.
What used to be the occasional case to provoke shock and anguish among the populace has, tragically, emerged over the years, to become the norm, with little surprise by members of the public. So deep, it appears, are the recurring evil practices by those who should know better and from whom much is expected.
When the people of a nation, traumatised by the mayhem resulting from armed banditry and gang warfare, have to learn of involvement of soldiers and policemen in stealing and selling guns, or acting as accomplices in drug-trafficking, hijacking and extortion crimes, or even fulfilling a political agenda, they simply lose hope in the institutions established to uphold law and order and defend the State.
Agony of majority
It is the criminals and those who advocate and/or participate in lawless activities that benefit. On the other hand, the vast majority of clean, hard working and committed members of the army and police have to suffer the shame and agony of the crimes of colleagues who tarnish the image of the security forces.
The evil, dirty cops and soldiers who fail to demonstrate that moral value, that sense of discipline required of their ranks, must bear a heavy burden for the shame, the hurt they cause to every police force and army in this region.
It is simply disgusting and outrageous that while so many are making such great sacrifices in their work and putting their lives on the line to ensure law and order, so that their country folks could appreciate what it means to be citizens of a nation that upholds the rule of law, there are the few whose greed, immoral behaviour and prejudices drive them to function as criminals, in or out of uniforms.
Members of the society, whatever their own status and social, economic or political interest, must also understand that they contribute to demeaning and devaluing vital institutions like the army and police force when they become involved in acts of bribery and/or turn the proverbial 'Nelson eye' to wrongdoings by lawmen and soldiers.
These are 'dark times', to quote the sentiment of Martin Carter, not only for Guyana and Guyanese, but across this region. All must be involved in arresting the decline to depravity and mayhem.
In commending the soldiers and police who continue to show admirable fortitude in the line of duty, we also appeal to those within their ranks, across CARICOM, to desist from their corrupt and illegal habits. Yes, in their own self-interest and that of the institution to which they belong and the nation they were recruited to serve.