I do not think that rational Guyanese would, for one moment, deny the need for urgent reform of the Guyana Police Service (GPS), but I would suggest that Mr Rohee has succumbed to a flawed strategy in his anxiety to prove his critics wrong. The method used to arrive at the recently announced reform proposals, represents missed opportunities to garner the support of the Guyanese public. The plea for wide support rings hollow since the announcement bears the hallmarks of an in-your-face fait accompli.
I refer specifically to the heavy dependence on overseas consultants. Such behaviour by national policy-makers does not contribute to the development of Guyanese expertise, and could be seen as being unpatriotic. Will we ever rid ourselves of our dependency syndrome? How much longer will Guyana continue to be dependent on overseas consultants at astronomical cost, and in many instances for questionable results? Apart from the Disciplined Forces Commission Report, what opportunities were made available locally, within recent times, for an input from civil society and interested persons? Long-term solutions will, ultimately, depend on Guyana’s ability to solve her own problems.
The proposals speak of “the implementation of a strategy that emphasizes more training…” But further training presumes that the beneficiaries are trainable. I am not at all confident that this particular goal is achievable within the near future, bearing in mind the low-level entrance requirements for police recruits. In relatively recent advertisements, applicants to the GPS are required to have a sound primary education. I am not quite sure where in Guyana’s public school system a sound primary education could have been obtained within recent years.
To quote from the Ministry of Education Strategy Plan 2008-2013: “Primary education is not enough for young adults who have to meet the demands of today’s world. The education offering of the CHS (Community High School) is inadequate. A good secondary education is perhaps the minimum requirement, even though it appears that it is from the tertiary level of education that young adults are more likely to acquire the [desired] level of functional literacy. This… however, is probably a function of the erosion of quality in the lower levels of the education system.”
The Jan 5 SN article reporting the views of the local private sector (‘Pay raise critical for success of planned security reforms’), though not scoring a bull’s-eye, does indicate one critical issue that warrants the most urgent attention. It should be ack–nowledged that the GPS, through no fault of its own, cannot cope with the increased variety of crimes now being perpetrated in Guyana.
It simply does not have the intellectual capacity. It will have to offer competitive rewards if it is to acquire the essential brain-power.
But first, what are the real organizational needs of the GPS, as opposed to wants (example, the dysfunctional water cannon)? Have these needs been assessed and prioritized? How will the GPS select persons with the capacities to match the organization’s needs? What will be the minimum required qualification at the point of entry that will ensure that police recruits are trainable, and that money will not be wasted in fruitless exercises? How will the capacities of under-qualified serving ranks be enhanced to enable them to benefit from further or tertiary level education? This is an absolutely critical requirement for ensuring quality throughout the organization.
In Guyana’s context of rampant crime aided by modern technology and fuelled by the narcotics industry, smuggling of the living and non-living, pervasive corruption, money laundering, and financial jiggery-pokery, the minimum entry requirement to the GPS should be the equivalent of a good high school diploma.
The term diploma is used because other relevant criteria should be required in addition to academic criteria. In some countries, colleges offer associate degree and degree programmes in law enforcement, which is an entry requirement in certain jurisdictions.
The above are some of the questions and criteria that should be used in the evaluation of the reform proposals. If satisfactory answers are not available, then the proposals as they stand, do not merit the support of the Guyanese public.
It is indeed regrettable that a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money has already been expended on a project that appears to be seriously inadequate. Recent events in the Ministry of Home Affairs involving value for money demand that all aspects of the proposed reforms be subjected to the most intense scrutiny.
Clarence O Perry