Community policing members float need for financial incentives

-political directives cited

A leadership training conference on the East Coast for Community Policing Groups (CPGs) heard a call yesterday for financial incentives to keep members interested but this was shot down by the divisional commander who noted that it was a voluntary process.

Some of the participants
Some of the participants

The annual event which is organized by the `C’ Division Community Policing Executive saw the attendance of about 70 members from the CPGs on the East Coast and West Demerara although invitations were sent out to all the Divisions. The conference was held at the Chateau Margot Primary School.

After listening to presentations from Major General (ret’d) Norman McLean and Jean Carroll, a training officer attached to the Public Service Ministry (PSM), several persons called for CPG members to be given remuneration as they sometimes have to spend their own money in the execution of their duties.

James Joseph, a member of the Le Ressouvenir CPG said that sometimes they are forced to use money from their own pockets when they have to travel. He said that this is done despite the fact that they do not receive any incentives to cover such expenses.

“We got to be realistic. Some incentive got to be worked out” he said, adding that persons only join the CPGs when the crime rate is up. He used the Lusignan massacre of January, 2008 as an example saying that during this period people came out in their numbers when they heard that things were being provided. Commander of `C’ Division Balram Persaud in response said that he agreed but it was a voluntary organization.

“No one forced you to join or pull money out of your pocket” he added.

The gathering was told to keep in mind that it is all about security for their families and communities.

He later said that because the Home Affairs Ministry gives a few items to the groups, persons believe that this would continue forever and when they realize that that is not the case they either refuse to patrol or disassociate themselves from the organization.

Imitiaz Zaferali, the executive’s public relations officer called for some sort of award to be given out to CPG members in recognition of their efforts to provide security for their communities.

Abdool Wahid Wickham, a member of the Golden Grove/Nabaclis CPG told the members of the head table that remuneration was a major problem and questioned how there could be a Police Force with high moral standards when remuneration is so small. He pointed out that unless there are high moral stands the efforts of the CPGs will be in vain.

Wickham said that the remuneration paid is so small for members of the force that it has led to corruption, which will in turn affect the efforts of the policing groups.

He stated that there is a shackle on the CPG coming from “political directives” and this is hampering its operations.He said that this is the truth, something people do not like to hear. Wickham said that as long as this remains, the success that is being sought to bring this country to a state of law and order will never be reached.

McLean said that people join the Force for a job and not really the money which will always be an issue.

During his presentation, McLean who has done studies on community policing, told the gathering that “the police are the public and the public is the police”.

He told the CPG members that their vision should be to help the police prevent and detect crime rather than fighting it. The gathering was also given some tips by Carroll on managing their time and setting goals.

Among the objectives of the conference were to share ideas and develop common approaches for the work of community policing and to develop clarity on the requirements, methodology and vision of crime fighting.

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