Some police dilemmas
By A.A Fenty
January 10, 2003
Many others - and their cousins - have spoken and written on the issue captured in the caption above. In this my “anniversary” month however, I share again my views - being a die-hard supporter of the Guyana Police Force. Additionally, of course, it should be obvious to all that any dilemma facing the hierarchy and management of the Force is ultimately, a national societal dilemma. A predicament for us all.
Our Police Force, with its myriad challenges, weaknesses and faults, is manned by, primarily, young persons recruited from our wider, imperfect society. There is no doubt in my mind - because there is public evidence - that the Force’s morale and effectiveness are undermined by a few of their own who willingly lost their way and the relentless assault against the organisation by those whose agenda is to create disorder, unrest, destabilisation and an “ungovernable” environment. But this Civil Force is the premier official Law Enforcement Agency of the State still. It is there to “serve and protect” us - especially the law-abiding. That Force is now under stress, strain and attack - and facing dilemmas.
During a political protest funeral, a pamphlet was distributed. That bit of hateful literary incitement was an obvious public statement of intent. It brazenly warned of planned, pending attacks against the places, persons and lives of the nation’s Police. Since that pamphlet there have been sieges of police stations and outposts, propaganda against police policy, procedures and institutions and, sadly, executions of members of the Force - on and off duty. Consider my rendition of the dilemmas. And their implications.
One: Never join those who tend to laugh whenever the police are made to retreat or suffer setbacks. With all its infirmities, the Guyana Police Force is, or should be, there for us. Imagine not having any force at all to prevent, investigate or defend? Already elements of indifference and refusal, by some force-members, are evident. Anarchy breeds society’s demise. We are not all equipped to defend ourselves. We will need trained personnel. Consider the criminals’ triumphs - over your own - if ever you are tempted to snigger at, or ridicule, the Force.
Two: The organised criminal campaign to kill and intimidate young policemen has, as one of its objectives, the creation of divisiveness and dissension within the force. Seeds are being expertly planted. Worse, some policemen, losing faith, are developing a mentality of distrust and aggression.
Not all executions of cops could be attributed to “bad business”, whereby crooked cops reneged on deals. Some killings are merely because some policemen did their duty effectively some time in the past. Old convicts and friends of convicts now have weapons. Even when police are not allowed to have. Revenge is the name of their murderous game.
Three: But caution should be the practice and policy when management allows certain off-duty cops to carry protection. The wicked amongst them might be tempted to do two things. Either loan or rent the weapon out to unauthorised individuals, or spitefully take out (prematurely and unlawful) those they despise. Just as the criminals are now seemingly doing. But good off-duty cops need self-protection. What a dilemma! I think the fellows should come up with some off-duty network of vigilance and protection for their buddies. Right?
Four: Unfortunately, there is also evidence that too many traffic-cops are intimidating and holding to ransom, persons who are innocent or just guilty of the most minor offences. Too many thousand-dollar `raises’ and detentions are putting the public against the best efforts of the better members of the Force. We all know the remedy to that.
Well, the above represents a simplified summarised version of police societal problems with even more complex fundamental underpinnings with regard to causes and solutions. Public Relations and certain outreach exercises must be continued and be developed. And these must not be sullied by the few rogue-cops around. Who knows? Perhaps I can still experience a public rally in support of the police force some day soon. The good police deserve it. Remember, there are no alternatives to a well-trained, reasonably-paid, professional police force.
Don’t fool yourself!
So weighed down one gets with the numerous, negative issues in today’s Guyana that some levity is necessary. But this supposedly lighter item also has negative, unfortunate implications.
Simply put, I want to caution the nation’s cricket lovers against hoping that any 2007 World Cup Cricket match would be played here in Guyana. West Indies Cricket Board’s Mr Dehring was artful, last weekend, in telling us the conditionalities, the international requirements and the attitudes needed to host an international event of that magnitude. But Dehring did not hurt feelings. Even as he outlined, vividly, what we’d have to do in three years’ time to be considered.
Boy! As a patriot, I know that I should hold out hope that we could do it in three years. But I’m a realistic patriot living in today’s Guyana. Then there is Lennox.
Lennox has asked me to imagine just three thousand Indians coming to back their team. (Forget the other team’s supporters!) Lennox, like Mr Dehring, wonders the following, for example: What happens at Timehri? Where would the visitors overnight? The international media and blackouts! Transportation smooth? For four thousand visitors, one day? Toilet facilities? Suitable cuisine at good restaurants? Oh! And the venue for the game! Look! Get Real. Or prove me - this pessimist - wrong ...
1) A Good Hope man accused of an heinous rape of a seven-year old girl on Boxing Day.
There appears to be “a substantial material inconsistency in the matter”, so the law and a magistrate’s discretion allow pre-trial freedom. Don’t even advise me Mr Bradshaw!
2) Great stuff early this week and year, Enrico: The item about Police Acting Chief McDonald being “a lame duck” and the ranks claiming that partly because of him, they are “sitting ducks”. You do it so well. Pity it doesn’t get past me!
3) Best response yet on the Hoyte Legacy. From Professor Bishnodat Persaud in London. We must examine this next time.
4) Then another correspondent hoped that the name change to Hoyte-Blackman TV (HBTV) would be reflected in that station’s quality of programmes. How dare you Sir? Did Mr Hoyte ever object?
5) Interesting the debate on Cuba and Caricom. Would any Caricom State tolerate what goes on in Cuba politically. Perhaps the idea is to encourage more democratic norms through contact. After all China is no longer a pariah.
6) Let’s examine sugar’s contribution to the ailing economy. Then let us understand the public servant’s role in that economy. There is some case for both.
7) Next week: freedoms, rights and security.
‘Til next week!