We have to help the GPF to accept that the professional development of police ranks must be addressed in a structured manner
The fact that the Guyana Police Force is giving serious consideration to reviewing its training curriculum and methodology is an indication that the administration recognises the importance of modifying its approach to training. It is understandable that a lot of focus will be on the recruit training phase, but I would hope that the review covers the various levels and aspects of instructional courses in which all ranks are required to participate. It goes without saying that a new recruit should be exposed to a basic curriculum which provides the best overall training and the tools necessary to become a credit to the Force. I recall when I joined the GPF in 1974 we new recruits when leaving the dormitory would be confronted by a full-length mirror which asked “Am I a credit to the Force?”
A well designed training curriculum is very important to the success of individuals in their chosen career path. It also has important benefits for the community in which they will be required to serve. Training in a variety of fields including law, community relations, firearms, vehicle driving, search and seizure, cultural awareness and ethics helps to produce well-rounded police officers. With proper orientation into the world of law enforcement, nothing is left to chance as the recruit will be better able to appreciate the role the police officer plays in the criminal justice system. I don’t believe that hammering the police force without offering constructive suggestions serves any useful purpose because if the police themselves do not believe that there is need for a change in the way things are done then no amount of criticism will cause things to change.
Therefore as members of the public we have to help the GPF to come to grips with the reality that the professional development of police ranks from recruit stage throughout their career must be addressed in a structured manner. Ethics and values need to be ingrained into the recruit from day one so that they know how important it is for members of the GPF to maintain high moral, ethical and professional standards. I have observed the physical build of many police ranks after they attain the rank of subordinate officer and I am amazed at the message they are sending to the younger ranks. I recall during my time in the Force that four of the fittest officers were Slowe, Persaud, Ramnarine and Mentore (Alvin Smith was a class act) as we subscribed to the thinking that physical conditioning and emotional health are a necessary aspect in an officer’s life to carry out their job functions.
Training must cover incidents with juveniles and the mentally ill and domestic violence situations. Ranks need to be able to interact well with others, co-workers and those within the community. Recruits need to know the basics of firearms safety, weapon care, the use of force and the possibilities and consequences of criminal and civil liability. Once out in the field officers need to know how to handle situations that may require use of force and to conduct themselves within the GPF use of force policy.
At the same time the safety of ranks needs to be addressed to train recruits on how to recognize and handle dangerous situations, and how to handle violent and dangerous people. Editor it goes without saying that the lot of law enforcers is not a bed of roses, and members of the public may not appreciate the inherent dangers ranks are likely to face when going out on duty. The GPF has been lacking in not sensitizing the public to the pitfalls and problems of policing, but it is not too late and it is certainly not beyond the Force’s capacity to address these issues in innovative ways.
Patrick E. Mentore