By Jeff Trotman
“When the people in the (Victory) Valley see policemen early morning or late in the afternoon, or at night, they mustn’t hide or duck. We are their friends. We’re looking after public safety and security … And in the Guyana Police Force, service and protection is our motto”.
Commander of the E Division of the Guyana Police Force, Owen Trotz made the comment during the first anniversary celebration of the Wismar Police Station Management Committee on Saturday, 17th May.
The Commander was responding to a call made earlier by chairman of the committee, Basil Jaipaul, who had expressed concern at the undesirable manner in which police officers generally accost members of the public while performing their duty.
Commander Trotz noted that just over a month ago, the new Commissioner of Police (acting), Seelall Persaud, launched an impact project in Albouystown. He said the project, which has a hard and a soft side, was implemented because police statistics show that 35% of the young people in the Georgetown and Timehri prisons come from Albouystown and its environs.
He said when interviewed, the older people in the target community say that outsiders go into Albouystown and engage in criminal activities. Consequently, the hard side of the impact project involves increasing the number of beat policemen in the community in an effort to curb non-residents from going into Albouystown to engage in criminal activity.
Commander Trotz said Albouystown has a church and a mosque and that the soft side of the impact project would take the form of the Guyana Police Force networking with the church and the mosque to provide clothing and books to disadvantaged children so that they can attend school. He said the soft side of the project also includes the provision of hot meals as well as lectures and vocational training for teenagers and young adults.
Stating that he is excited at the project, Commander Trotz said that he would like to see the Wismar Station Management Committee and the police officers at the Wismar Police Station initiate a similar soft project at Victory Valley, Linden.
Commander Trotz said he is expected to go on pre-retirement leave in July after thirty-five years of service in the Guyana Police Force and he would like the new commissioner of police to launch the Victory Valley project before he goes on leave.
Pointing out that the focus will be on football and volleyball, Commander Trotz said he was hoping that the station management committee would help to provide the necessary equipment and gear.
The event, which included cultural performances and a dinner, was also used as a commissioning exercise for construction of a ground floor to one of the buildings in the Wismar Police Station compound by the station management committee.
While delivering the vote of thanks at the double event, Vernon Lewis, Vice Chairman of the station management committee, expressed concern that the public and the police do not have a cordial relationship.
Lewis said as vice chairman, he has been mandated to initiate a better relationship between the public and the police and to do so effectively, he would like to appear on the electronic media with other members of the committee and police officers to sensitize the public about the committee and its goals.
Stating that the public relations effort should be an ongoing one, Lewis said there are so many broken and dysfunctional homes in Linden that station management is an unwelcome term. The former detective said he also functioned as a school counsellor and that he was optimistic that with the right effort and cooperation it is possible to achieve a generally harmonious relationship between the police and the public in Linden and subsequently, reduce the crime in the town.
While thanking the Commander and those who have supported the efforts of the management committee over its one-year existence, Lewis suggested that police officers should be trained to be polite when speaking to members of the public before taking the required action.
He stressed that the management committee and the police officers should have a more harmonious relationship so that they can work together for the police to have a better relationship with the members of the public.