Things are changing in the police force
July 2, 2004
The fortunes of the Guyana Police Force have gone full circle. Of course, there are those among us these days, who being unaware of how the police operated in the past, believe that they are witnessing a new phenomenon. But they are really witnessing a return to the days of good policing.
The first test of this was seen when the police used minimum force to subdue the man, who walked into the Brickdam Police Station, wrested a gun from the sentry, and ended up fatally shooting two ranks. The rank, who responded to the shooting, raced to the scene with the admonition, “Don’t kill him.” The police force had changed its approach to armed confrontation. The same trend was reflected when the police confronted three men who had been conducting a reign of terror in West Ruimveldt and its environs. The three had just robbed a household when the police confronted them. They shot at the police. One was shot dead. The others were wounded and taken into custody.It was the same thing when the police raced to Success, having received a report of a robbery in progress. Chowtie was shot. He later died of his wounds. The other suspect was captured. He is facing the charges.
There were reports that the police had become inefficient; that they were not solving crimes. Since then, the police have solved more than 70 percent of the murders committed, the most sensational being George Bacchus’s.
The solving of that crime was achieved with hard police work. It was an example of excellent police work. The police did not shirk from arresting their own and grilling them based on information provided. They did not look at who happened to be among the moneyed lot in our midst. None was spared.
Buxton was a haven for criminals. Long after the hard-core criminals visited the Great Beyond, crimes continued to be committed in that community and its environs. Gone are the days when the police were afraid to enter the village. They have not only gone into the village, they have also arrested people who once thought that they were safe once they remained in the confines of the village.
People who committed robberies were detained and placed on identification parades. People identified them and many crimes were solved. Of note, is the fact that when the police went after these men, again they used the minimum of force. There has not been a single charge of extra judicial killing in recent times. The change has not gone unnoticed. People who were afraid to talk to the police are now offering information to them. Many of the crimes that the police solved resulted from the support the wider society offered.
Such has been the change that crime appears to be on the decline. Gun crimes, at least, appear to be on the decline. Late President Desmond Hoyte had once announced that unless the police solved crimes then it would be a waste of time to institute new and drastic legislation. He posited that crime would not decrease. He was right. As soon as the police began solving crimes the wave dropped. Criminals suddenly awoke to the realisation that they would be caught, if not at the same time, in the near future. That was the difference.
The police force could only improve. The authorities want to rename the organization, the Guyana Police Service. This would suggest that the police are once more serious about providing a service to the people to whom they are committed to provide service and protection.
In the old days, the police worked hard. They walked the beat. They went house to house seeking information on criminals. Indeed, the criminals were not as violent as they appear to be today. But then again, the police rarely carried firearm. This is once more becoming the norm. We are seeing beat patrols without arms, as was the case a few short years ago.
It will not be all well in the immediate future. There would be vestiges of the past but rest assured, the Guyana Police Force appears to have turned the corner.
We are unaware of what the training programme is like. We would like to believe that the training is no different. What seems to make the difference is that the policemen, having left training school, know that their inappropriate actions would not escape sanction by the higher echelons of the force.
Today, as they celebrate 165 years of existence, we are certain that the message is to let the new culture grow. The society could only get better as the police force improves.