It has been almost four months since the Linden Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended a complete management audit of the Guyana Police Force but it is unclear if any steps have been taken to have this done.
In its final report which was handed over to President Donald Ramotar in late April of this year the COI which was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the July 18, 2012 killing of three men, among other things, it was stated that there was too much centralization of decision-making and procedures in the Force were anachronistic.
Brumell had told the newspaper three weeks after the final report was released that he was only at page four and as such could not offer a comment on the implementation of the recommendations. Despite this he said that the Force would stand by the contents of the report.
Stabroek News has made repeated efforts to contact Brumell via telephone over the last two weeks, and has also visited his Eve Leary office, but to no avail. As such it is unclear if he completed reading the report.
No policeman this newspaper spoke with could definitively say that the police had acted on the recommendations listed in the commission’s final report.
The commission in its report had recommended “very strongly” that the management audit be done so that “there can be a comprehensive assessment of what is needed to modernize the organization. If this is done it could signal a break from practices which are inimical to proper policing and endorse those which are consonant with international best practices.”
It was stated too that during the inquiry, indications were given from time to time relating to “probable deficiencies” of the police force in terms of its strength and establishment, its forensic capabilities, the recruits’ training curriculum including that related to human rights, human relations and firearms and the use of police personnel to perform duties which civilians seem more suited to discharge. The report referred as well to the issues of intelligence capacity and investigative proficiency, internal and external accountability, service delivery and resources.
The commission’s recommendation came on the heels of government’s announcement of plans for a major overhaul of the police force, including the implementation of long outstanding measures to reform its management and operations.
The commission had adverted to elements of inaccuracy and unreliability which characterized the record-keeping of the police. “It was with some difficulty that we were able to have particular records synchronised and reconciled. This weakness has to be addressed as it can affect discipline, operations, accountability, etc,” the report said.
The report also stated that during the inquiry indications were given from time to time that related to “probable deficiencies” of the police force in terms of its strength and establishment, its forensic capabilities, the recruit training curriculum ‒ including that related to human rights, human relations and firearms ‒ and the use of police personnel to perform duties which civilians seem more suited to carry out. The report also cited the intelligence capacity and investigative proficiency of the police, internal and external accountability, service delivery and resources.
It recorded that the Commission was of the view that the audit team should comprise local, regional and Commonwealth experts, “to carry out a structural and functional review of the Guyana Police Force and recommend both short term measures and a longer term strategic development programme to increase police effectiveness and public reassurance.”
The COI had also been tasked with making recommendations, which when implemented would assist the force in effectively and professionally discharging their responsibilities for the maintenance of law and order, not only in Linden but in similar communities without endangering the safety of ranks and innocent persons.
On July 18, 2012 around 6.30 pm police ranks opened fire at Linden on a crowd which had gathered at the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge to protest the announcement of an increase in electricity tariffs. Allan Lewis, Ron Somerset and Shemroy Bouyea were killed and a number of people were wounded. In the aftermath, buildings were burnt to the ground and vehicles were torched. Roads in the mining town were also blocked with huge logs and old vehicles.
The commission in its report had said that the police were responsible for the death of the men and compensation was awarded to their relatives accordingly. However it could not be definitively ascertained who fired the fatal bullets.
What has become of the police investigation? Brumell had said that the Force had launched an investigation not only into the shooting but the origin of the buckshot pellets which were taken out of the bodies of the slain trio. It is still unclear what stage the investigation has reached. There had been calls for eyewitnesses to come forward and help police with their investigations, but it has not been disclosed if anyone came forward or if the investigators managed to pick up any useful information.
The Force was blasted for the decision-making on the day of the shooting and the report had also named Brumell as being a remote participant giving instructions during the events of July 18. “Having regard to the way things were going and the potential for great danger to life, limb and property his on-the-spot presence before nightfall could have made a great difference,” it had said. Then commander Senior Superintendent Clifton Hicken and ASP Patrick Todd who was in charge of the half unit deployed from the Tactical Services Unit (TSU), Eve Leary were among those singled out in the report.
Hicken it was noted was giving instructions by telephone when his presence at the scene could have been more effective while ASP Todd and the TSU were withdrawn from the bridge when control and command were necessary.
Hicken was subsequently relieved of his post and transferred to another division. It is unclear if any disciplinary action was taken against Todd.