Community policing executives cite friction with ministry liaisons, abuse of resources

The Biennial General Meeting of the National Community Policing Executive (NCPE) saw problems being highlighted by members, including internal strife involving the ministry-appointed liaison officers, and that the NCPE has not had access to their bank account for the past two years.

The latter was reported by the outgoing Treasurer, Victor Seegobin, who, declaring during yesterday’s Meeting that there was no Treasurer’s report to present, told members that no deposits or withdrawals have been made since 2015. The account is said to have $382,000.

It was later explained that the committee has been encountering difficulties fulfilling the bank’s criteria for accessing the account under the new anti-money laundering bill. The meeting was held at the Police Sports Club, Eve Leary.

According to Seegobin, there were no deposits to be made as there were no fundraisers done by NCPE during the time period. This, he also attributed to bad weather conditions which he said coincided with the dates set for events, but said, however, that NPCE members had paid for visits to the various divisions out of pocket.

This comment raised eyebrows and questions from many around the room and advice was shared to the room by Dennis Pompey, Administrator of the Community Policing Desk, that initiative needs to be taken to plan programmes outside of the rainy season, given Guyana’s weather pattern.

Relating the criteria that need to be fulfilled in order for control of the bank account to be regained, Seegobin stated that a letter listing the new executive needs to be provided to the bank, along with the minutes of the AGM, an outline of project fundraising proposals for the next year, and the TIN numbers of all the members of the committee.

He stated that it is has been difficult to mobilise all the committee members to get this done, but expressed that with the incoming committee, the issue will be resolved.

The issue that dominated yesterday’s engagement, however, regarded the roles and responsibilities of the liaison officers assigned to various community policing groups.

Hired to bridge the gap between the Ministry of Public Security and the volunteers on the ground, several complaints were raised by the Chairmen of various groups yesterday, specifically Berbice, Linden and Essequibo, who complained of liaison officers misusing resources (vehicles and gas most commonly named) to their own benefit. Some also complained that some of those officers were not cooperative.

“I am not here to crucify anybody, but my contention is and has always been and will continue to be there must be a distinction between volunteers and paid servants. And liaison officers are paid servants. Community policing personnel are volunteers, and in my mind, in many divisions, the volunteers fetch the load for those that are being paid. And that is unfair and it is unjust and it needs to stop,” Dr Mark Constantine, the NCPE Chairman stated.

In delivering his report, Constantine had highlighted several recommendations, including having a clear policy for the management of assets.

He also mentioned more training for policing group members, ensuring that junior ranks are accommodating to these groups, awarding policing groups at the end of the year, having a fixed place of business for the NCPE and DCPE to conduct business, and considerations for the NCPE and DCPE to be provided with tools such as computers, printers and other office equipment that will aid in the execution of its duties.

Assistant Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine, addressing the inefficiencies that were highlighted, urged that the group begin improving from now, while acknowledging the work they have already done.

“When I observe your membership here today in terms of the attendance, I’m disappointed. I note in the report there’s some four thousand, six hundred and something members across the country and this is an AGM…and so it tells me that a lot of work needs to be done to convince, to persuade, to encourage community policing group members to make the sacrifice. You see the absence of liaison officers, no treasurer’s report; an important body like this. An AGM with no treasurer’s financial report in writing. Those are serious issues that need to be corrected,” he said.

“…I will urge that you the volunteers be given exposure as to what really is volunteerism. What is the purpose that you have chosen to follow, what is the aim? And the thing is you need to be reminded constantly….you have done well so far. Despite what came over here this morning, it’s not all what we would term doom and gloom. You have all done well.”

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