Too many complaints about the behaviour of the police

Dear Editor,

Would someone who cares about justice and the second-class citizen treatment of ordinary everyday strugglers lend some advice here? Tell us what recourse is open to them when confronted with situations like these: The police on the hunt to apprehend a person or persons who it is alleged have kicked down the door and entered the dwelling of someone they suspect of harbouring the alleged criminal, come up empty handed, only to realize that it was the wrong home or that the person(s) they are pursuing was never there. But quite apart from the trauma, harassment, interrogation and intimidation that the occupants were subjected to, there was damage done to property and household items. However, they left without an explanation, apology or saying anything about the cost of the damage. Tell me, to whom must one turn in such a situation?

I always contend that one of the most terrible things to confront one in any country, is to be wronged and have nowhere to go to seek justice, moreso because of one’s impecunious state.  This kind of reckless, irresponsible, and unprofessional behaviour by the police is too frequent and should not be allowed to continue without them being held accountable. They need to be much more thorough in their homework if this is their modus operandi – and it sure does seem as if it is. And these abuses of power and injustices are invariably visited on the low-income citizens – those at the bottom of the ladder. It stands to reason that this conduct can only serve to bring about much hatred and further tension, as well as an acrimonious relationship between the police and the public. This harassment/bullyism and extortion that many quietly grumble about are disgusting traits that in no way attest to the competence of the GPF; on the contrary, they are disturbing, stressful, and vexatious and only serve to outrage the people.

But it seems to me, judging from the frequent complaints against the police, that some young men are opting for the force with hidden agenda, and certainly not a healthy one. Still, what boggles the mind further is also the fact that most of the members who are in the forefront of these actions come from similar poor working-class back grounds, just like the victims they are trampling on. It reminds me of Mr Barrington Braithwaite’s observations some time back: “The system [GPF] had captured troubled, unbalanced personalities and created soulless mass murders out of them… This is only the tip of the iceberg from what I’ve learnt about the disturbed personalities and troubled backgrounds of some members of the police.” It is very evident that the GPF has very little if any interest in the poor and dispossessed. I really do pray that no one writes suggesting that the victims go hire a lawyer!

And while we are at it, I would like to ask whether there isn’t a convention of some kind that lays down the standards by which the force must conduct their business? When one is in custody of the police isn’t it their responsibility to fulfil basic, fundamental human rights, eg, ensure that the ‘prisoner‘ is fed? Well, this is definitely not the case, and many can attest to it. Almost everyone knows of people being arrested and locked up for 3-4 days, many times away from their community and relatives, who are left unfed, unless some friend or good Samaritan gets a wink through the grapevine. The police must understand that as custodians and enforcers of the law they too are equally bound by it and are obliged not only to adhere to it but also to be exemplary. The callous display of bullyism, disrespect and intolerance is not a proud badge to wear. I need repeat that the public bears witness everyday to the unruly, uncouth, lewd, disrespectful and commonplace behaviour that has come to exemplify the GPF, with the exception of a lonely few. Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not in the least on the side of defending the bad guys, no! They have every right to rope them in accordingly. I recall Commander Vyphuis on an NCN programme ‘Law enforcement and you’ mentioning how concerned he was about how members of the force were perceived by the public, especially the new recruits. Good manners, he stressed, should be the hallmark of the GPF; that they should be respectful and polite, even though they may have to charge someone. Well said, but like they say, that seems a tall order for a short guy.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Fyffe

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