The police should be trained to handle simple problems

Dear Editor,
It is about time that the police in Guyana be given some sensitivity training about how to handle simple problems. The police were called because a man was up in a tree and refused to come down, and this caused the police to fire shots at the man. I am concerned that the police in Guyana have lost their sense of responsibility. A man in a tree who refuses to come down does not warrant shots being fired at him. What serious crime did this man commit? Whose life is in danger if he remains in the tree? Could we not assume that at some point in time he would have to eat and perform other bodily functions? The point is, he is not about to commit another crime by being up in a tree surrounded by the police.

I have witnessed persons on the Brooklyn Bridge who have refused to descend and the police climbed up and removed them. At no time did they attempt to shoot them down.

This and other blatant disregard for life by the Guyana police continues because the Commissioner of Police, the President and others in decision-making positions are insensitive to the needs and wants of the public. I am certain that there are numerous Guyanese who are appalled at this type of behaviour by the Guyana Police Force. If we the people don’t speak up about these incidents, then this behaviour would never stop and the police will continue to receive tacit support for their unjustifiable actions.

Irrespective of the crime a person commits, once he is cornered by the police and he is not armed with the potential to injure the public or the police, then that person should not be shot by the police. A well trained police force would respect the rights of citizens and afford them the right to have their day in court. At no time should the police be judge and jury and dispense injustice as they see fit. On the contrary, the police should be charged whenever they show gross disregard for the life of any citizen.

Over the years, we have witnessed the deterioration of moral standards in the society. Many who are old enough could remember when the police never shot at any citizen unless that citizen was a direct threat to the public. Today we are constantly witnessing the police shooting for the simplest of reasons, with impunity. To run from the police could be the cause of one’s fatal demise.

How many times have we witnessed the police being tried for a wrongful death in Guyana? Such action by the judicial system against the police rarely happens.
There must be procedures the police should adhere to. Lest we forget, Duryea Walcott, being unarmed, was shot dead by the police in the 1980s while he walked with his girlfriend in the streets in Agricola. He was accused of stealing a cow. The police should not be immune from having the laws being applied to them, for they are also citizens of this developing country. The police must be given better training about how to handle different situations with the public, and they should not overreact.

Yours faithfully,
Patrick Barker

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