The paradigm appears to be slowly but surely shifting towards the police in their seven divisions being more community oriented and problem solving (COPS). Apparently, the number one law enforcement agency in Guyana is paying more attention to solving crime and also problems in the communities they serve. There appears to be a special focus on youths. Sunday Chronicle, October 1, carried a report on the police interaction with over 500 youths in ‘G’ Division under the caption, ‘Police help young Essequibians find their niche – through “Young Guyana” show.’ The article opined that youths from Region 2 are now better acquainted with the various entrepreneurial avenues available to them, thanks to a ‘Young Guyana’ show held recently at Damon Square, Anna Regina. The show was conceptualised, designed, developed and implemented by Stephen Mansell, Senior Superintendent of Police, Commander ‘G’ Division in unison with several entities including the Ministry of Social Protection, members of the business community and the Institute of Private Enterprise Development. The attendance was massive. Recently, after the escape and recapture of several inmates from the New Opportunity Corps, Stephen Mansell visited that location where he spent some time interacting and addressing the students. He did not condemn or pass judgement on them. Instead, he urged them not to do wrong things so that when their time is up at that institution they would have graduated with a skill that will assist in their personal development. He offered to make his subordinate officers available to give lectures to them on a weekly basis and invited all to attend free music classes on Saturdays at Anna Regina Police Station. Any activity, moreso one by a police commander that will cause a positive change in attitude and behaviour of the students at NOC, must be commended.
Moving on to other divisional activities. There was a report in the Guyana Times with a photograph of members of the Guyana Amazon Warriors interacting with ‘A’ and ‘C’ Division youth clubs members at the Police Sports Club, Eve Leary. The event was made possible through the efforts of Assistant Commissioner of Police Marlon Chapman, Commander ‘A’ Division, Calvin Brutus, Senior Superintendent of Police, Commander ‘C’ Division and Clifton Hicken officer in charge of Operations. Sunday Chronicle, October 1, reported on the launching of the police bicycle patrol in ‘D’ Division under the heading, ‘Bicycle patrols boost police confidence.’ The Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leslie James, who has an open- door policy and pro-active approach towards policing said that the division experienced a 50 per cent drop in reported serious crimes as compared to the same period last year. There are numerous ongoing police /community activities in the division, including youth involvement. In ‘E’ Division Superinten-dent Anthony Vanderhyden who is acting as commander is strengthening the excellent police/community relations left by Senior Superintendent Fizal Karimbaksh, who is on leave. The division has numerous active community policing groups and 14 youth clubs with over 400 members. A high priority is placed on the youths. ‘B’ Division saw some remarkable community work done by Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Williams, particularly with the youths during his short stint as commander. Kaieteur News, Saturday August 26, 2017 carried an article entitled ‘Berbice police to the rescue, Commander leads the way.’ The newspaper stated that Paul Williams was making the rounds since his appointment as commander a month previously. He travelled within the division, meeting communities and organising activities as he leads the way to community related activities. Williams donated trophies to the Glasgow Development Association for the hosting of a series of activities to commence its activities. I know that he will continue his community approach to crime reduction. Assistant Commissioner Lynden Alves has very good people skills which will aid him in building on the work left by his predecessor. He has already announced his intention to do so. Two reported events in ‘F’ Division which has some logistical nightmares in policing the interior of Guyana caught my eye. Sunday Stabroek August 27, 2017 reported, ‘Byderabo students get school uniform through police-led project’. The article stated that after a two-week back-to-school project several students received school uniforms and other school items for the new school year. The project was spearheaded by Divisional Commander, Senior Superinten-dent of Police, Ravindradat Budhram and other ranks from the division. Guyana Chronicle Monday, September 4, 2017 posited that, ‘Bartica youths benefit from empowerment programme.’ According to the report 115 children from 5 communities in Bartica benefited from a one week empowerment programme. This activity was hosted by the police in collaboration with the business community. Commander, Ravindradat Budhram promised that he will continue to provide a safe environment for youths, and will have programmes and activities that reduce youth crime and keep young people fully active.
The police must have done some amount of environmental scanning to come up with a futuristic approach to target our youths, our future, our leaders for tomorrow.
COPS is nothing new. It has been proven as an effective crime reduction tool. It stems from the philosophy of Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) that the police should strive to maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the saying that the police are the public and the public are the police. According to Miller and Hess (2002), “The police and the public can accomplish what neither can accomplish alone. The synergy that results from community policing can be powerful. It is like the power of a finely tuned athletic team, with each member contributing to the total effort. Occasionally heroes may emerge, but victory depends on team effort.”
Structured interactions between the police and the various stakeholders in the communities is a giant leap in the right direction. It is destined to reduce crime and the fear of crime. However, do not expect the crime rate to nosedive overnight. Green shoots are emerging. They will be fruitful. The watchword is sustainability.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Retd)