Human rights must be uppermost in cop’s mind

-Rohee tells police confab
Respect for human rights must be uppermost in the minds of police officers when conducting their duties, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee  told police inspectors and sergeants yesterday at a conference.

“Modern policing requires a policeman who is expected to be firm but one who is also aware of the rights of citizens,” Minister Rohee said while addressing the inspectors and sergeants conference that was held yesterday.

He cautioned that it is important for them to perform their duties in an efficient and effective manner if the force is to achieve its objectives of providing service and protection to the public. He noted also that they are the ones who are strategically positioned to have first hand knowledge of any discontent in their communities.

He warned, however, that more attention should be paid to complaints made at stations and greater efforts exercised to address the issues raised by the complainants at the level of the station, and so avoid the necessity of seeking redress at higher levels.

Response time

And the minister also pointed out that there have been too many complaints about the time it sometimes takes for the police to respond to reports made by citizens and he said that the junior officers as the “front line supervisors” are expected to take the lead in ensuring that the issue is attended to.

And reminding them of their duties the minister told the junior officers that they must ensure that their police stations, barracks, and compounds are in proper order.

He stressed that they should ensure that the lock-ups are kept “clean and tidy.” From all indications this is one duty the officers have not been taking seriously as there have been numerous complaints about the dirty and unkempt conditions of lock-ups.

The Brickdam lock-ups was cited recently as being unfit for humans and was described as a health hazard with no functioning toilets.
Rohee told the officers that he is not “totally convinced” that they are doing enough to keep their stations and other buildings in proper manner.
“You should not wait on notified inspections to clean up your surroundings. This should be an ongoing exercise,” he told them.

Clement Rohee
Clement Rohee

The minister also called on the officers to pay more attention to the supervision of police lock-ups as too many prisoners have been escaping from police custody and too many incidents have been occurring at police lock-ups.
“This situation needs remedial action,” the minister said.

In recent times a number of persons have escaped from police custody but the most glaring was the escape of the  notorious Jermaine ‘Skinny’ Charles who had fled from the Sparendaam police lock-ups by reportedly squeezing through a space in the floor boards and he was only discovered missing until hours later.

He was shot dead in a confrontation with police subsequently. Also, there have been several deaths in police stations, the most recent being that of contractor James Nelson at the Brickdam lock-ups.

Minister Rohee also called upon the officers to improve their relationships with members of the community policing groups and to support the enlistment of neighbourhood police ranks in the village districts.

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