The Guyana Police Force has withdrawn its support from the Police Wives’ Association (PWA) over the refusal of its executive to hold elections.
The announcement was made yesterday in a statement issued by the force on the heels of a report in Stabroek News that quoted members of the PWA as saying that they were being barred from entering their office at the Police Headquarters, Eve Leary.
In a statement, the force said there are persons on the PWA executive committee who are not wives of serving, retired or deceased members of the police force and neither are they policewomen. These persons, it said, “ought not to have been members of the Police Wives’ Association in the first place, and therefore their presence on the Executive Committee is in breach of the Constitution.”
According to the police force, it was prompted to review its participation in the Association after former commissioner Leroy Brumell demitted office and “some issues” regarding the Patron of the Association, arose.
Stabroek News was told by a PWA member that after Brumell demitted office, the Police Administration sent a letter to his wife, asking her to do an interim handing over to Maxine Graham, who is the currently the most senior policewoman and also the President of the Police Women’s Association but not a member of the PWA.
The PWA official said Brumell’s wife refused and stated that the interim handing over to Graham would have been a breach of the Constitution, and this marked the beginning of chaos between the force and the PWA.
According to the police force, under the amended constitution of the Association, the wife of the Commissioner of Police in active service shall be Patron and an Ex- Officio Officer. The force said the members of the Executive Committee must be selected from among the members of the Association. It noted that under the amended constitution, membership is open to all wives of policemen in active service, retired or deceased, and policewomen in active service or retired who are interested in the work of the Association. In addition, the Patron, Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer and 5 other members must be policewomen, or wives of policemen, and they shall form the Executive Committee.
But the force said its review found that the Executive Committee of the Association consisted of persons among whom were not the wives of serving, retired or deceased members of the Police Force, with the exception of a Police Sergeant who is the Treasurer, and another who is the wife of a serving officer.
It also discovered after consultations with the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security that the Association has not met its legal requirements under the Friendly Societies Act since 2007, in that audited financial statements have not been submitted.
As a result, the force said that through the most senior female police officer, it attempted to encourage the Association’s executive body to hold an Annual General Meeting under the Constitution that provides for the election of office bearers.
It noted that the executive initially agreed, but thereafter bluntly refused. “…And from all indications the ensuing communications smacked of disrespect for the senior female police officer and other female members of the force who were engaged in the discussions,” the force said, explaining that it then took a decision to withdraw its support to the Association.
“It is felt that the current composition of the executive gody does not allow for the interests of the force to be represented or advanced, regarding its objectives,” the force said, while charging that the Association has not recently contributed anything “tangible” with regard to the Police Day Care Centre nor the serving husbands within the Police Force.
“Similarly it has not done anything tangible regarding any of its objectives,” it noted.
However, a member of the PWA, who asked not to be named, challenged the force’s statement, saying that despite the amendments in 2010, serving members of the Association who had been on the executive prior to the change were allowed to remain members.
‘Individual women,’ the term used to describe the non-affiliated members of the PWA, is now the name allotted to women who have remained on the committee and are not affiliated with the force. These women, the official said, are full members of the organisation and as such are allowed to vote and to be elected as executive members.
In response to the claims that the PWA has not been contributing to the Day Care Centre, the member said the Association has sponsored four Day Care Centre staff members to attend Child Care Classes at the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education for this year. In addition, the member said earlier in 2014 an incentive of $20,000 each was given to two Day Care staff members. Household utensils and other items were also handed over to the Day Care by PWA, according to the member.
The PWA official also said the present Executive Committee sought advice from the Friendly Societies Registrar to deal with the situation of the lack of audited accounts.
The official, who noted that over the years policewomen have become more reluctant to join the organisation, said the police force’s aim is to demolish the organisation but noted that it has been around for a number of years and plans to continue to carry out its duties.