Police wanted to charge for overtaking on a double line when there was no double line

Dear Editor,

At about 10.15pm on the night of Wednesday 12th July, 2017 I was proceeding northwards on the Craig Public road in my car.  Also in my car were my wife and two daughters, aged 8 and 5. In front of me was a police car and behind the police car was another vehicle.  Both vehicles were travelling slowly. According to my odometer in my car, the vehicles were being driven at about 38 kmh. I looked beyond the two vehicles and into my rear view mirror and was satisfied that the way was clear. I overtook the two vehicles. Almost immediately the police vehicle put on its siren and I pulled into the corner.

A policeman who refused to give me his name, although I requested it several times, and whose name tag I could not see because he wore a luminous over-jacket, told me that I overtook on a double line. I told him that there was no double line on the road. He said I should still know of the double line. I told him further that I do not traverse the East Bank Road often and I would not know where double lines were supposed to be. The policeman told me to drive to the Grove Police Station. I told him that I wanted to take pictures of the road and he said “Go ahead”.  I then took my wife’s cell phone and took pictures of where the alleged double lines were supposed to be (photo provided). What was evident was that the road had recently been re-surfaced and there was absolutely no line, single or double.

The driver of the police car then called me over and told me that they would not bother with the overtaking matter but would charge me for dangerous driving. I asked him to explain to me how I drove dangerously. He did not explain. I asked him for his name. He refused to give it to me. He instructed me to drive to the Grove Police Station. It dawned upon me that this was the typical ‘shakedown’ which I have heard so much about. There was a third policeman in the police vehicle and he told me that they were going to put me on $10,000 bail.

By this time my daughters began crying and wanted to get home. I contacted by phone an individual whom I know was connected somehow to the Ministry of Public Welfare. He spoke to the police driver who refused to give his name to my ‘contact’.

I then started to drive to the Grove Police Station, as instructed. The police vehicle drove behind me. Not knowing where the police station was, I drove past it. The police vehicle then ‘sirened’ me again and the first policeman came to tell me that I had driven past the police station. I told him I had no idea where the station was because I was not from the area. The constable then asked for my driver’s licence, appeared to make a note in some small book and told me I would be summoned to court for dangerous driving. He returned my driver’s licence.

I reached home at 11.30 pm according to the clock, and my family were and are still traumatised, particularly my two daughters.

Viewed through the actions of these three policemen, I think the motto of the Guyana Police Force may well be ‘Sting and Piratise’ instead of ‘Serve and Protect’.

Yours faithfully,

(Name and address provided)

Editor’s note

We are sending a copy of this letter to Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud for any comment he might wish to make.

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