Recently I was among Guyanese invited to a dinner here in Miami with Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud who met with a small group to update on the work of the GPF, including the launch of a foundation to assist the families of personnel killed in the line of duty. His was an informative and encouraging presentation and the discussion was frank and honest.
He said that the Guyana Police Force will be at full strength by mid-2017 with batches of 200 to 300 recruits being trained leading up to a reformed, more professional and more efficient law enforcement and protection agency.
He added that Guyana had been offered assistance by some foreign countries and that these offers will be pursued with a view to enhancing training and technology as well as increased resources such as vehicles.
He pointed to a donation recently made to the GPF of a number of computers by the ZARA Group of Companies based in New York, which he says has better equipped his personnel to deal effectively with crime prevention and detection, and is encouraging other Guyanese owned business as well as organizations and individuals to assist where possible.
Addressing the small group of Guyanese en route home, the Commissioner acknowledged that there has been an increase in crime in recent months but made it clear “there has also been a marked increase in arrests of those committing these crimes”, pointing out that efforts are ongoing to improve the service and protection offered by his agency.
Asked about the enforcement of the law which requires bars, restaurants and clubs to close at 2 am, Persaud said this is the law and it must be enforced. Though admitting there is no proven direct correlation between the rising crime rate and late opening of bars and other such establishments, he said that the consumption of excessive alcohol has led to a number of social ills including domestic violence. But he said that discussions were currently being held among stakeholders about easing the restriction on Old Year’s Night, when Guyanese traditionally party until the wee hours of the morning to usher in the New Year.
The main focus of the Commissioner’s presentation was the setting up of a foundation to support the families of police officers and ranks killed in the line of duty. He pointed to several cases where police personnel killed in the line of duty had left young spouses and children behind. He said it is critical that the GPF “takes care of its own in such cases” and urged support for the foundation in the future.
Persaud said that efforts were underway to provide an insurance programme for police officers and ranks and reported that negotiations with a local insurance agency were progressing satisfactorily.
It is a good practice for officials to update and interact with the diaspora when they visit, even if just passing through cities where there are clusters of Guyanese.