Opposition leader David Granger yesterday dismissed the 15-point plan unveiled by the president on Thursday to rebuild public confidence in the police, saying that it cannot be workable if the key problems affecting the force are not first addressed.
Granger also pointed out that previous recommendations for police reform were made but to date most are yet to be implemented.
During the opening ceremony of the Police Officers’ Annual Con-ference, President Donald Ramotar announced what he dubbed the ‘15 in 2015’ plan, which he said is the next step in the journey to bring greater “security, safety and stability to Guyana.”
Ramotar, who is up for re-election at general polls in May, also said the plan would win public confidence and improve the overall crime fighting capability of the police force and he committed “to seeing it becomes reality” this year.
Among other things, the plan entails establishment of neighbourhood watch programmes; introduction of a problem oriented approach to solving crime; increasing the number of police ranks on the streets and in communities; addressing the emergency 911 call system; improving the rapid response time to crimes; establishing directed patrols; reopening of cold-case files to solve unresolved crimes; and expansion of the force’s intelligence ability to achieve greater focus on the critical crime targets, such as gangs, trafficking syndicates, groups at risk and crime hot spots
Asked for his reaction to the announcement during APNU’s weekly press conference yesterday, Granger said Ramotar did not outline a plan, only guidelines. “A plan is something else. A plan is something with definitive inputs and outcomes. I would regard them as guidelines,” he said, referring to Ramotar’s outlines.
According to the opposition leader, who is a former army officer and ex-national security advisor, there have been about more than a dozen reform plans for policing, mostly from the British government, over the last 14 years but they are yet to be implemented.
“The Disciplined Forces Commission in 2004 laid out recommendations, particularly for the reform of the force, and they have never been fully implemented.
I don’t think that they are going to work without the type of reforms which deal with major problems,” said Granger, who had served on the Commission.
Among the problems the force faces, he added, are the remuneration that police ranks receive, the quality of training, the level of supervision and the lack of assets.
He said the president ought to look “a little bit more deeply” at the problems affecting the police force. “I think he can look at the DFC report, which was presented to the National Assembly in 2004, and he can get a better idea of what needs to be done in the Guyana Police Force,” he said.
Granger also once more voiced his concern at the sudden appointment of Seelall Persaud to the substantive position of Com-missioner of Police. “I see he went off and purported to swear in the acting commissioner as the substantive commissioner. I don’t know how that can be done in defiance of Article 211 of the constitution, so I think the problem starts there.
The commissioner is still acting as far as I am concerned,” he said.
On Tuesday, Ramotar confirmed Persaud as the Commissioner of Police but Granger said he was not meaningfully consulted on the appointment as is required by the constitution. Article 211 (1) of the Constitution provides for the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Com-missioner of Police to be appointed by the President after “meaningful consultation” with the Leader of the Opposition and the chairperson of the Police Service Commission.
According to Granger, there is a whole list of recommendations which the president can apply in a bid to improve the police force.
He said that all Ramotar needs is a five-point plan, which includes paying police better, providing them with the needed resources, insuring that they are retrained and taking steps to stamp out corruption, in order for the force to advance.
Granger added that he did not hear the president say anything during his speech about government providing maritime craft to prevent smuggling, cocaine trafficking and gun running.
Of the latter, he said if arms continue to come into the country, robberies will continue to occur.
Therefore, he added, a preventative method has to be implemented. “I am not sure what the president had to say would have an impact on crime situation or the police,” he added.