As a consequence of two visits to me by ranks of the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), “C” Division, requesting of me a statement as to whether or not I knew who authored a Petition and whether or not I knew who the Petitioners are, I felt compelled to go public.
I am a community activist and residents of Enmore, and out of Enmore, visit my home on varying issues, most of which relate to Police harassment, shake-downs and Police failure to fairly address matters at the Police Station. Invariably, I would advise the persons to take the matter up with senior personnel at Divisional Headquarters at Cove & John.
As I am writing this piece (11:40 am) two residents have already complained about raucous behaviour by a gang of youths of Hope West, Enmore, and about a certain remark made to the effect that “when this (petition) investigation done, the war gon start”. As per usual, I advised that they go to Cove & John. Their responses were the same: I do not trust the Police. Nothing will come out of it.
But, are they lying about their issues? My own knowledge of the persons who came to me yesterday morning tell me that they had no reason to lie. They were frustrated.
As regards my giving a statement to the Police, I am sure that the ranks are aware of my fundamental right to give or not to give a statement. And so is the right of the petitioners. As regards the author of the petition, my question to the OPR ranks was: When a Police rank takes a statement from an individual and the individual signs that statement, whose statement is it; the Police or the individual’s? By the same logic, whose petition did the media carry: the person who typed it or the persons who signed it?
OPR’s chasing after signatories will do little to alter the message contained and conveyed in the petition. Those who signed, and those who did not sign, know that the message is true. In fact, I am convinced that the whole of Guyana, and even outside, know it is true – except the police themselves. And that is what the Police Administration should address: The message represented in the petition. Perhaps other communities need to publish petitions so that OPR ranks can go scampering all over the country trying to find the authors and signatories, rather than addressing the issues.
The signatories of Enmore’s petition should be complimented for standing up to advantage and airing their grievances, not harassed. It is no secret that other communities experience similar discomfort; but chickens are chickens, and it is only a matter of time before the “balalee” (chicken hawk) gets them, if they do not speak out.
At meetings of the Enmore Police Station Management Committee, copies of minutes of every meeting, since 2001 to date, were being sent to the Hon Minister of Home Affairs (now Public Security), the Commissioner of Police, the Commander of “C” Division and the Crime Chief. Every meeting addresses, inter alia, the crime situation, the conduct of ranks of the Enmore Station and of patrols commandeered by Cove & John, noise nuisance, etc., etc. Thus, the contents of the petition should come as no surprise to the Force Administration. The concerns of the Enmore community were being recorded and transmitted month after month. Perhaps the wording of the Minutes has been vague or poorly worded, or maybe never taken seriously. However, the recent petition has certainly generated some anxiety in some quarters.
Incidentally, now deceased Commissioner Greene had issued a Policy Document on Police Station Management Committees and their remit, which document should be of interest to the GPF.
Is it any secret that many, many persons are shouted at, talked down to, threatened, by the Police- both on the road and at Police Stations? I do not think that anyone, including yours truly, can objectively claim that there are not good and decent men and women in the Force. Far from that. But I am convinced that the Force has a huge number of ranks who are rotten to the core. They prey on the public.
Crime statistics issued by the GPF appear from time to time. But those statistics are collected and assembled from what has been recorded at Police Stations, etc.
What about crimes and offences which never get into the Station’s records, which get “settled” on the road or on the way to the Station? Never heard of “lef or write”? Or, “you gon be detained for 72 hours”?
With respect to GPF’s lack of uniformity in addressing what happens in one community as against another community, I wish to highlight just three issues;
* Try passing through Plaisance Railway Embankment on a Thursday night, or Buxton Railway Embankment on a Friday night, or Golden Grove Market Square on a Saturday night. It seems as if the hosts at these locations have permanent permission for lawlessness: blocking traffic, consumption, vulgarity and who knows what else?
But the hosts of a wedding in Enmore or Enterprise or Lusignan have to get a Provisional licence from the Court to play music at their wedding.
Why the double standard?
* Check out the car parks at Plaisance, BV, Buxton, Bachelor’s Adventure, Golden Grove, Nabaclis, Victoria, etc. Private vehicles plying for hire. Many owned by Police?? Dark tints?? Any owned by Police ranks??
But check Enmore, Enterprise, Lusignan, etc. The cars have to be in Hire.
Why the double standard?
* Why are roadblocks often set up at the Embankment at Good Hope, Ogle/Industry, Enmore/Foulis; Hope/Lowland? Why not at Plaisance, BV, Buxton, Victoria?
Why the double standard?
Editor, I call on the Force Administration to look deeper into its Organisation. The GPF does not enjoy the trust of the populace. And that is sad. But the Administration should also not be like the proverbial ostrich and con itself that its ranks are altar boys and girls.
The Police Force has brought distrust onto itself. It has to rebuild trust, mostly by its own action. The police uniform does not clothe the police to lord it over citizens. Last I read, the motto of the Force still is : Serve and Protect”; certainly not “Scare and Collect”.
The GPF must redo its image. To accept otherwise is to disregard a vital pillar of existence: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The truth is the truth. We may deny it, but at our own peril.