Police behaved very unprofessionally during competition on cultural centre tarmac

Dear Editor,

A very disturbing incident happened on Tuesday night, December 3, 2013 on the National Cultural Centre tarmac. Guinness was hosting its 6th Guinness Greatest in the Street competition, which as usual was well attended with youths from the inner city areas. The games progressed well and the crowd was enthralled by the fun, music and Guinness, all of which were in abundance.

At about 21:40h a gunshot rang out, and the crowd dashed in a mad frenzy. From my vantage point with executives from Banks DIH and UG, we could not see exactly what was happening. Then a few minutes later, policemen in plain clothes, began accosting a patron rudely and violently right next to us, inquiring about the ownership of a Honda CG motorcycle. These plain clothes policemen all had guns drawn as they verbally and physically abused the patron about his motorcycle. The man took out documents from his pocket in an attempt to validate ownership of the bike. However, the shouting policeman refused to look at the documents, and the man was subsequently arrested and placed in one of the waiting vans on the Hadfield Street bridge of the tarmac.

The police went on to display their bravado and now infamous unprofessionalism, looking threateningly at patrons; parading up and down the tarmac, with guns displayed in most instances, much to the disgust of everyone. I left after the initial fracas. This attitude the police have of trying to intimidate persons is atrocious and must be denounced.

Even if the bike might have been stolen or illegal or whatever, is it right for the police to disrupt the social evening of citizens to abuse suspects? Couldn’t the police approach this man in a more professional manner equally balancing their serious nature with professionalism? The kind of unintelligent, unprofessional, reckless way the police operated on Tuesday evening must be condemned. For a moment I could not differentiate citizen from police. They both sounded and looked as if they were all criminals.

There might be a problem with stolen bikes in Guyana. The police could be investigating stolen motorbikes in Guyana. These bikes when located must be seized and their illicit owners arrested and dealt with condignly by the law. However, a more professional approach needs to be taken. Being a menace to the society is not policing. Walking around intimidating people is not policing.

A policeman is a symbol of authority that must be respected at all times. Policemen must strive to engage the public in a professional manner at all times. Walking around menacingly with guns drawn in a public space with people imbibing is not sensible policing. Perhaps a significant level of retraining needs to take place to refresh the very fertile minds of those officers in whom the citizens entrust their protection.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Francois

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