The GPF needs a system to identify ranks who have emerging problems

Dear Editor,

I wish to congratulate Chief-of-Staff Mark Phillips and his Education Department for highlighting the successes of his 15 ranks who graduated recently at the Government Technical Institute. That morale booster can only serve to motivate other servicemen and women to take advantage of the various academic opportunities available locally. I was particularly impressed by how the COS showed the relationship between the courses of study and organizational and personal development. Having said that I now wish to turn my attention to the two embarrassing episodes concerning two ranks one each from the army and police force who were implicated in criminal activities. Editor we need to recognise the efforts of the arresting and investigating ranks in those two matters for among other things using their powers of observation, and not taking anything for granted.

It makes absolutely no sense to deny that there would be persons in uniform who will be bent on committing all sorts of wrongs for their own gains. The Minister of Public Security has mentioned more than once his desire to get rid of police ranks guilty of misconduct. The difficulty to overcome is how to identify these potential miscreants with a view to removing them from the organisation before they embarrass the administration. There is no doubt in my mind that the minister like his predecessor means well, and therefore the prevailing open-minded approach could see the introduction of an early intervention system (EIS) to detect and respond to potentially problematic behaviours as early as possible before undesirable situations develop.

The EIS has been applied as a modern police management tool to detect indicators of undesirable behaviour and remedy this where possible.

Editor, it is an undeniable imperative that a system which identifies police ranks whose conduct indicates emerging problems affecting the quality of their work performance and relations should be introduced. Therefore as an early response tool the Force can be alerted to provide counselling or training to help problematic ranks change their behaviour. Of course intervention should take place before ranks reach the stage where formal disciplinary action is warranted. Incidentally, the recent spate of related editorials in both dailies is in sync with the expressed desire for police reform.

I mentioned the efforts of the GDF in highlighting the achievements of its members, and I take this opportunity to refer to one tremendous occupational hazard of policing in Guyana. Although it may be widely known fact that police ranks like their GDF colleagues, are required to be away from home for long periods, not enough is known about the psychological demands placed on ranks and their families by this and other factors. Imagine that recently joined Constable Harry Paul is posted miles away from his home to the hinterland. He may be a young married father, but because of the nature of his calling he is required to get on with the job in a strange community with an unfamiliar culture, etc. He might just succumb to the appetites that beset the best of us frail humans. I have posited at other forums that a rank stationed in a lucrative post working under the same bad conditions of his less fortunate squaddie is less likely to engage in professional misconduct to a degree that would see his removal. On the other hand the rank working under just as intolerable conditions on the coastland is more prone to act out his frustrations with the result that members of the public feel the brunt of unethical policing. I applaud the police foundation to benefit survivors of police ranks, but I believe that we need to show a deeper appreciation for the daily experiences of the ones living amongst us. Maybe a survey can help determine policy direction in this regard.

Finally I am adamant that the Minister needs all the objective and critical views and assistance he can get to deal with the many issues that reside within his portfolio, and the sooner he gets these the better off we all shall be. I am heartened by the far-reaching decision to limit the residential recruit training phase to four months. This will definitely redound to our collective benefit.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick E Mentore