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We are already in the last quarter of 2020, in what is turning out to be a significant and momentous year for our country. Some have even voiced their anxieties saying that this year is not passing fast enough because it has not been a good year. There are those also who seek to lay the blame for all the negative happenings in the country to the fact that this year is a leap year.
So far this year, the Police have been kept on their toes and have come under intense scrutiny, criticisms and even physical attacks in their responses to the various happenings in Guyana. Some of the happenings that have drawn the attention of the Police so far are:
The many road accidents and road fatalities
The many assaults and robberies
Enforcing the COVID-19 protocols: the wearing of masks, the number of persons in a gathering and the curfew
Managing protests at the Ashmin’s Building, the Courts, GECOM’s Office, West Coast Berbice and the Arthur Chung Conference Centre
The retirement and reshuffling of senior officers
Racial imbalance in the Force
Slow response time to reports from citizens
The care of Service vehicles
The number of cases lost in the Courts due to insufficient evidence or poor investigation.
Based on the foregoing happenings, it appears that the next Police conference will have some lively discussions. Interestingly, the Honourable Robeson Benn, Minister with responsibility for the Police, was himself not too long ago, at the receiving end of the actions of the Police in an incident at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, when he was given “a little roughing up “.
Maybe the police have been judged too harshly. Maybe too much is expected of the Police, given their resource capabilities. Maybe the citizens are not cooperating enough with the Police. What is certain however, is the fact that the Police cannot be ubiquitous. It behooves the citizens the citizens of Guyana to take responsibility for their actions,
“….to be obedient to the laws of Guyana and to dedicate their [my] energies towards the happiness and prosperity of Guyana “[ Words from our National Pledge].
Certainly, there is room for improvement in the Guyana Police Force. However, there is no quick fix for the many challenges which face the Police Force. Guyana is not singular in this regard, for several CARICOM countries and even some First World countries are similarly challenged. Most notably are the high murder rate in Trinidad and Tobago, allegations of the use of excessive force in Jamaica and the events that spurred the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States of America.
Policing has advanced far beyond the good old days of the baton and foot patrols. Twenty first century policing requires the Police to confront: drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, human trafficking, narco-trafficking and cybercrimes. With the advent of these new challenges the Police have to be retooled and retrained to prevent, reduce and eliminate these happenings. To do so successively, the Police need to be given the necessary support and resources to produce the results that the citizens demand.
Irrespective of their short comings, it is the Police that is invested with the constitutional duty to serve and protect the citizens of this nation without fear or favour. May God help them so to do.
For all the happenings, at the end of the day, each Police rank is someone’s son/daughter, father/mother, spouse/sibling or good friend. They belong. They go back home to their families at the end of each work day having faced all of the happenings and the stress that go with those. In addition, when their days as a law Enforcement Officer are ended and they take off that uniform, they then return to a life as a civilian. Therefore, their welfare needs to be addressed also egs. counselling and stress management. They are front line workers too. Why not show appreciation to a Law Enforcement Officer today? Will you? Not too many persons opt to make a career of a Police Officer.
Bernel L. H. Wickham