-as part of plans to build trust, accountability
Seeking to rebuild public trust, acting Police Com-missioner Seelall Persaud yesterday announced plans to make police stations across the country accountable to the public for their performances, which will include making their records on crime fighting and human rights known to the public.
“We have to work on public trust to enhance our operations,” Persaud told those in attendance at the opening of the three-day Police Officers’ Annual Conference, which is being held under the theme, ‘Continuing modernisation with special focus on developing public trust and capacity building through partnerships.’
Persaud, who was addressing the conference for the first time since assuming the duties of Police Commissioner after the retirement of Leroy Brumell, gave a snapshot of the short term plans being looked at to help steer the beleaguered force in the right direction. The force has been criticised for years for its
approach to crime fighting and crime prevention as well as for human rights abuses, including torture.
Persaud admitted that during his 30 years in the force he has seen members of the force engage in all sorts of excesses against the very members of the public they are supposed to serve. At the same time, he said, there were those members of the force who have displayed great commitment and dedication to duty from both.
The force, he noted, will continue to work with the Ministry of Home Affairs with respect to the implementation of its strategic plan and he noted that all the key stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitment to the process.
He emphasised the importance of public trust to enhancing the force’s operations and he said that a number of initiatives are already underway to ensure there is accountability.
He said that there are already bulletin boards at every station with information about what the public should expect from ranks, the name and cellphone numbers of the officer-in-charge of the station, the rank-in-charge of the Sub-Division as well as the officer-in-charge of the Division.
That bulletin board, he added, will also have information on the station’s performance with respect to crime and disorder as well as information on prisoners’ rights and human rights. “We believe that this is likely to have a positive impact on accountability at various levels within the force. Accountability to the people that we serve as well as those oversight bodies,” he explained, while also noting that efforts would be made to address crime and traffic, with an emphasis on crime prevention in the case of the former.
He said too that the force will continue to look at capacity building, particularly the training of ranks and the acquisition of new technologies for the force’s operation.
Persaud also spoke about the recently launched ‘Project Impact Albouystown,’ in which the force is seeking to make the area safer through strategic interventions and community partnerships.
He said initiatives will be extended to other neighbourhoods based on analyses. He added that while some communities do not have much crime and violence, there may be a large number of youths there who need direction and the force would seek to address this situation. “We are going there to fill those gaps. Getting them into vocational-type training. Get them back into schools… and help find jobs, to help develop interpersonal skills and a range of other activities which we will all be doing, like in Albouystown, in conjunction with community leaders,” he said.
Persaud said the force is “proud” of its achievement so far since the launch of the Albouystown project, while adding that it has had attention from every sector, each of which has expressed satisfaction with what had been done so far and pledged continual support.
Resistance to the Albouystown project was expected, he noted, particularly from persons who benefit from crime and disorder. “However we remain committed to place our policies on the principle to provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people… we would not change unless we see that we are failing in achieving that principle,” he said.
Meanwhile, Persaud revealed that the conference would see presentations on domestic and gender based violence and options available to the police in engaging all the non-governmental organisations operating in Guyana in order to collaborate on a number of areas, including violence, sexual offences and trafficking in persons. He noted studies have shown that multi-sectorial approaches are best to deal with these issues.
He said too discussions have also started with the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security to establish a suicide hotline with the objective of prevention. Work has also commenced on the reintroduction of the drug abuse resistance education programme in schools countrywide, he added, and the force has also started work geared at enhancing the traffic education programme.
Among those in attendance at the opening of the conference were the Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and the retired Commis-sioner Brumell as well as senior members of the force, including divisional commanders.