General improvement in police conduct but
Junior ranks marring GPF's image - Kennard By Nigel Williams
November 18, 2006
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Kennard also said that there has been a marked improvement in the attitude of police officers over the past six months. He said complaints to his department had declined somewhat, but pointed out that there had been too many negative reports about the junior ranks, especially constables.
"I don't know if their youthful exuberance is what is causing this, but there have been numerous complaints against the young officers compared to the senior ones," the former chancellor of the judiciary said in an interview with Stabroek News on Thursday.
Notwithstanding this, Kennard said that recently there had been a marked improvement in the conduct of policemen generally.
"People who make complaints from time to time tend to exaggerate and I usually encourage them to speak the truth and my impression is that there has been improvement," Kennard said.
He told this newspaper that within recent months with stepped-up police operations, citizens were more inclined to cooperate with the lawmen.
Asked what might be responsible for the crude behaviour of some of the young ranks, Kennard observed that they somehow became pompous when they put on their police uniforms and carried guns. He said training instructors must impress upon recruits the need for them to be tolerant and courteous to members of the public and to treat each complaint seriously.
Topping the list of complaints this year, according to Kennard, are allegations of policemen neglecting their duties. He added that unlawful arrests and officers misbehaving in public were also cases before him.
Kennard believes that citizens continue to value the work of his department, noting that those who show up to make complaints are the ones who are oftentimes genuinely offended by police officers. "No one will leave Essequibo or Linden or Berbice to come here to make a false complaint... these are people who were genuinely wronged by policemen," Kennard said.
The former chancellor said the offending officers have to develop stronger values and improve their literary and educational skills as this could make a difference in their behaviour.
Kennard agreed also that better pay for policemen and a general improvement in their working conditions could go a far way in attracting more qualified and trained personnel in the force.
Meanwhile, Kennard disclosed that for this year so far he has received 235 written complaints, which were all sent to the Guyana Police Force for reports. He said he has received reports for 162 of the cases with 73 still outstanding. Among the cases for this year were seven unlawful killings.
Kennard said that in one of the cases, where Orin Adams a minibus driver was assaulted by a policeman and subsequently died he had recommended criminal prosecution, which was adhered to. In April this year Adams was allegedly hit behind his head by traffic officer Mohanlall Persaud of Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara. The blow caused Adams' death. Persaud has since been charged with manslaughter.
Meanwhile, in three of the killings, coroners' inquests were recommended. These involved the deaths of Rayon Beckles; Michael Messi, who was shot dead by the police behind the National Com-munications Network earlier this year and Bhemaul Harrinarine a resident of Bath Settlement who was allegedly killed by police in a shack located at Enterprise Squatting Area, East Coast Demerara.
There were also two other cases of police killings and Kennard said that although reports were submitted by the police force on these two cases statements taken in the matter have not been provided to him as yet. He said he had made a request, but was still waiting.
There was another case where a mentally-ill patient, Seon Andrews was found dead in the Sparendaam Police Station lock-ups in June. A post-mortem examination had shown that the man died from blunt trauma to the head as a result of consistent head banging. Andrews' body also bore a laceration to the left leg in addition to other injuries, which suggested that he might have been beaten.
Police had reported Andrews, 26, of 105 Atlantic Gardens was found dead in his cell at the Sparendaam Police Station. They said he had hit his head against the walls of his cell and died. But Andrews' family strongly denied this saying he had been beaten by the police and died as a result of the blows
Kennard said that in this case a complaint was made directly to his office and he had requested the file, but there has been no word from the police on this.
Kennard in the past had complained about the police's sloth in sending reports he had requested. He said this situation was improving somewhat noting that reports were coming in a more timely manner now.
He said, however, that he and former commissioner of police Winston Felix had worked out an arrangement whereby the police would be given eight weeks to submit reports requested by his office, but this is not being adhered to.
Nevertheless, Kennard said, he continues to exercise patience and was still hoping for the best.
In addition to the seven unlawful killings, Kennard mentioned that he has also received three reports of policemen discharging a loaded firearm and causing injuries. One of these cases involved Suchand Baichan who was shot while on a visit at the Enmore Police Outpost on June 14 this year. Kennard said he recently completed the case and recommended that the officer be charged with discharging a loaded firearm with intent and felonious wounding.
Baichan of Logwood, Enmore, ECD was struck in his abdomen by a bullet from the gun of a policeman at the outpost. Preliminary reports had revealed that the teen had gone to the police station to make a telephone call. However, he was told that in order for him to make the call he would need a phone card. Baichan left the station and went across the road to a nearby shop where he purchased the card and was heading back into the station. At the time the policeman reportedly had his weapon in his hands and was spinning it with one of his fingers on the trigger. It was while Baichan was making his way through the station's gate that the gun went off and he was hit. He was picked up by the rank and rushed to the Georgetown Hospital.
The other two cases involve Paul Singh and Mohinder Anrood. No criminal charges were recommended in these cases.
Of the 162 cases, Kennard said, he had recommended that disciplinary action be taken in 35 instances. Most of these cases deal with policemen neglecting their duties, unlawful arrests and policemen acting in a manner likely to bring discredit to the force.
Kennard said also that there were some cases where the complaints had been withdrawn. He said where disciplinary action was not recommended, in some cases he had urged that the offending rank be severely reprimanded.
Asked whether he thought the force usually carried out the recommendations, Kennard said yes, adding that he had no reason to doubt its sincerity.