Granger has to signal a harder line on crime

Dear Editor,

Crime and security are making the rounds in the media recently.  Not that either has ever been totally out of the news coverage.  The foreigners released alerts and comments, and the President announced a gathering of security people.  I think all of this is helpful, yet a few simple moves could be more meaningful.

For starters, President Granger has to signal a real hard(er) line on crime; he must not appear to be either soft or separated from the daily travails that maim and degrade the populace made to feel more and more endangered.  Now I know that he prefers (and adheres consistently) to delegated ministerial oversight and performance, but the alarming situation calls for some presidential proximity and sharp ongoing public positions on his part.  I believe that this can go far in shoring up the morale and confidence of a struggling security apparatus, as well as that of increasingly besieged citizens.  In short, the pronouncements from the President have to be unequivocal and penetrating.

As for the overwhelmed Guyana Police Force, I recommend that the first step would be to acknowledge that too many of its personnel are not worth the uniform worn.  If non-performance and non-delivery of duties were felonies, a great number in the force would be in the stockade.  Their very presence in public constitutes a menace to society, as it incentivizes the reckless and criminally-intentioned to

disrespect and trample upon the law.  I am of the opinion that many in the GPF are engaged in nuanced silent protest.  They are on a self-imposed go-slow, a subtle strike action, when body language and conduct are studied.  This has been increasingly apparent since the current government’s anti-corruption stance took away some of the freedom to waylay the law-abiding at will, or to gift the lawbreaking with a free pass.

With incentives crimped, the eyes and eyes of citizens, as corroborated by numerous reports, discern that there is selective going through the motions, selective application of the law, and at a selective pace, too.  There is caprice afoot in full view. Seniors have to stop being practised media cops, and begin lighting fires under the derrières of the slothful, and get them moving with alacrity in the right direction pronto. But first these seniors themselves have to be on the move. They must stop giving canned speeches, and get on with the doing.

Thus, I recommend that there be a larger presence of khaki on the corner. In other words, there should be more senior police officers on the roads and streets to oversee the green as well as the grizzled in their observance of procedures, and performance of duties.  For the GPF, this would reverse the public perception of too many chiefs and too few constables.  In a force admittedly short on resources of all kinds, there must be a radical upheaval of settled mindsets, which would result moving from seat to beat; and from chairing inside to chaperoning outside.  Think about this: Guyanese (even the dafter ones) miraculously slow down, sit at attention and come to attention (both are possible while still on the move) when they behold that tan coloured clothing in the midst ahead.  I foresee a difference when the men with stars are in front and in the open air.  It is time to shift from the strategical to the tactical.

To give credit where it is due, the GPF has recorded near unprecedented success of late in solving major crimes.  It goes without saying that in some of those instances major monies had to be turned away.  There is praise for the professional and principled inroads made.  However, there is the awareness that some of that major (dirty) money is at work in many matters, including a pending matter close by.  There is watching from different vantage points.  None of this aids the forward march of the few dedicated to clean policing, and which only adds exponentially to the woes of citizens.

Separately, but not unrelated, one letter writer pointed out that local drivers do not stop for traffic lights.  I think that, while accurate, could be the understatement of the past few years, and calls for minor elaboration.  Most Guyanese drivers do not stop for anything or anyone. They stop neither before power and authority (the President); nor funeral processions (dem ain friken jumbie nah mo); nor pedestrian crossings nor major intersections nor children nor the elderly. They do not stop. They do slow down for three things: known destructive potholes, immovable speedbumps, and just as immovable animals. This confirms that dumb Guyanese are quite capable of dealing with dumb obstacles that pose peril to their own wellbeing or their wheels.  To those objecting to the use of dumb, I apologize to the immovable beasts.

All in all, the energy levels and interest levels of the entire GPF must undergo a complete overhaul, including watchdog mechanisms; there has to be new official priorities through zeal and delivery. I strongly believe that much can be accomplished with what is at hand.  The spur has to be applied, and at every level in and out of the force.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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