April 30, 2004
WHILE the utmost priority has to be given to battling the recent upsurge in crime and to ensuring the security and well-being of citizens, the decision by the police to look at revamping the public image of the service is a welcome move.
Among the decisions taken at the just concluded annual Police Officers' Conference was the unanimous move to change the name of the Guyana Police Force to the Guyana Police Service.
According to a statement from the GPF on the outcome of the three-day conference, the decision to change the name is expected to reflect the fact that the organisation will embark on "serving the people of Guyana by delivering quality of service".
The statement said that during the deliberations the officers explored avenues to promote continuous improvement in their work and thereby uplift the image of the Police.
"The attitude of Policemen on duty on the road and when in contact with members of the public at the various police stations, was identified as an area for immediate scrutiny and corrective action," it said.
This has long been a point of concern among citizens and there is the widespread feeling that much has to be done to improve this aspect of policing.
Police officers and ranks have to perform their duties within the law and their job is not easy.
They daily face dangers - death, serious injury, insults and a host of hazards and this sometimes results in members of the police force reacting in apparently harsh, or less than pleasant, ways in dealing with the public.
We are all human beings and all prone to the weaknesses associated with the human race - but there are acceptable standards of behaviour, which must be adhered to, in any civilised society.
And, like others, the police services must be above board.
While the merits of a name change from a force to a service are debatable, there can be no doubt about the need for immediately addressing the "attitude of Policemen on duty on the road and when in contact with members of the public at the various police stations".
The police must be firm in dealing with some cases, but must adhere to accepted norms in handling complaints and reports from citizens.
Care, courtesy and consideration are watchwords that readily come to mind and it would not take much to make these par for the course in moving to implement the image changes the conference agreed to.
We applaud the decision by the conference to look at this burning issue and look forward to changes sooner rather than later.
We also welcome the focus on the ongoing irritants of loud and abusive noise especially from amplified stereo equipment and the promise for campaigns targeted to address this specific issue.
The noise nuisance has long ballooned out of proportion in this country and long-suffering citizens are crying out for redress.
There is much work to be done on improving police-public relations and the officers' conference has identified key steps forward.