The Guyana Police Force (GPF) notes with concern, an article widely circulated in the media, under the pen of a former Commissioner of Police, aimed at the administration of the organization.
It is the view of the GPF hierarchy that the article seems to imply that the Guyana Police Force was engaged in the practice of unprofessional and partisan acts.
It is apparent that the primary aim of the article is to negatively influence a particular section of the society towards the GPF in general and more specifically to sully the image of its senior administration and perhaps to sow discord (within the Force and society).
The Administration of the Force has utmost respect for Freedom of Expression as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana. However, any misrepresentation of fact(s) needs to be strenuously addressed and in this regard necessitates perspicuity.
The author mentioned inter alia, that during his tenure in the Force he stayed away from political activism and expressions of sentiments. This is also the position of the current Administration of the Force which in recent times has been strongly emphasized, advocated and practiced.
It should be further noted that the GPF is apolitical and not officious. In that regard ranks were reminded to keep their personal political preferences to themselves, off and away from all police locations, and absent in the execution of their duties.
To this end it is quite apposite to note that the Commissioner of Police and Officers of his Senior Administration met with the following persons on different occasions:
i) The PPP/C team comprising of Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Presidential Candidate, Mr. Irfaan Ali and Prime Ministerial Candidate, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips.
ii) The United States Ambassador and the High Commissioners of the United Kingdom and Canada along with Head of Security of the European Union
iii) Mr. Andy Jones, Mr. Jason Carter et al of the Carter Centre
iv) Representatives of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) including representatives of the American Business Community
v) The Chairman and representatives of the Private Sector Commission.
The parties mentioned above can attest that during these engagements the GPF made it clear that during the Election period the posture of the police would be one of professionalism inclusive of dialogue, and acute restraint which has since been manifested in its engagements, phenomena that has been viewed worldwide.
The pontification by the author regarding consequences that are likely to manifest into hardship and suffering which was expressed with an aura of certainty and conviction regarding a particular outcome, is of grave national concern and has been noted by the GPF. There were also other insinuations, albeit veiled, which were also noted.
As regards to what was deemed to be unprofessional performance by police ranks at the Region 4 RO’s Office and the Arthur Chung Convention Centre [sic]; this is clearly unfounded as the police operated within the confines of the Law provided for by Section 3(2) of the Police Act Cap. 16:01.
Further, the Constitution of Guyana by virtue of article 197A (4) itself refers to what the police can do to ensure safety in ‘all places’ and notwithstanding the fact that GECOM has its own security, the police force has a duty to maintain law and order, to ensure the safety of all, anywhere and everywhere in Guyana.
The article also stated that society took note of the selective deployment of Officers and ranks in the Force. This seems to question the judgment and directions of the Commissioner. The stark reality is that, deployment of Officers has always been the Commissioner’s call as having overall superintendence of the Force. This is a phenomenon that can be examined historically and one which has been a part of the modus operandi of successive post-independence Commissioners, without exception.
In the case of the two scenarios highlighted and compared by the author i.e. Free Regime and Tyranical Regime, it must be emphasised that Guyana is a democratic State. The GPF which is an institution of the State ,is a professional organisation, and in the conduct of its mandates that professionalism is exercised daily which is in keeping with any government that is deemed to be democratic.
The reference made to the two specific activities viz, GECOM Office (Hadfield and High Streets) and the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, respectively, seems to suggest that the police actions in their engagement were unprofessional and counter to their Constitutional mandate, a proposition that is unfounded in fact. While the article seems to focus on the two locations, it completely or rather deliberately abnegates the efforts of the police in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and competence.
It should also be noted that the post-election activities where the police exercised a high degree of restraint were not given any recognition by the former Commissioner of Police. Such partisan commentary speaks volumes.
There were incidents which saw ranks being subjected to verbal abuse by some persons of civil society. Ranks were also attacked by protestors armed with Firearms, Cutlasses, Wood, Iron and other Crude Weapons which resulted in several police ranks being seriously injured, and hospitalised, while others were so traumatised that professional counselling had to be sought. Also school children were injured and hospitalized, public buses and private motor vehicles were damaged and public roadways were blocked with tyres, lamp poles and other materials which were set on fire.
These protest activities degenerated into public disorder resulting in significant damage and destruction to State and private property and in many instances infringed on the rights of citizens, while putting the protection of life and the safeguarding of property at risk. Throughout these episodes ranks of the GPF continued to exercise much restraint.
These incidents which were widely aired on both social and print media have failed to attract even a scintilla of advice or any comment, whether complimentary or otherwise, from the former Commissioner. This is premised on the fact that the sitting Commissioner of Police is usually available to and in contact with all former Commissioners.
Notwithstanding the distracting views of the author, the Administration of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) remains resolutely committed to its motto of ‘Service and Protection’ for all in the maintenance of public safety and security without fear or favour.