The police have been denied the presumption of innocence
Stabroek News
September 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

You have exhibited a pattern of derogating the police. In support, I cite the example of your headline when an ex-member, who was separated from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) more than 20 years ago, was arrested in Barbados, "Ex-cop arrested for cocaine possession". Can you say what purpose was served or what you hoped to accomplish? Was it to sell more papers? Would you have said `ex-cane cutter'? In my opinion, this headline, coupled with other journalistic tantrums by you and some letter writers, points to a direct intention to besmirch the character of the men and women of the GPF and makes me suspect that you may have a personal gripe with the police.

This is further substantiated by your editorial of July 29, 2001, which was nothing more than a silly attempt to prosecute a case in your paper. Have you asked yourself why the police would advise the driver of the car to speed away when he is a potential witness and poses the threat of testifying against the police? You asked if we are to believe the police that in addition to the guns, the men also carried other items, and since the vehicle sped away where did these items come from? You provided the answer yourself when you stated that a bag was removed from the car. That is where crooks usually carry the tools of their trade including their implements to break and enter the homes of innocent citizens and rob and kill them. This editorial is replete with innuendoes, is excessively emotional, lacks inquiry and serious analysis, wrongfully maligns the police, and draws invalid conclusions.

You are annoyed because the President questioned the veracity of the so-called eyewitnesses and yet you do the same to the police. You write passionately about the rule of law and yet you deny the police the presumption of innocence. Those of us who served in this department are galled by your reckless assumption that witnesses will be afraid to come forward and by your use of the phrase, "given the reputation of the Black Clothes Police." You should be among the last to talk about reputation for you have erred and omitted in the past and have subsequently apologized because you did not verify the accuracy of information provided to your reporters. How would you like to be judged solely on those errors and omissions? Would you like us to base your reputation entirely on those instances? Beware of your overconfidence bias, the police might just be right.

We must not be impervious to the environment in which the police work and should always recognize that while the police react to an apprehension of fear, the criminals act on a fear of apprehension. Indeed, your editorial of 6.9.01 candidly points out the alacrity with which guns are used. Had Richard Faikall, Allan Higgins and Eloye Adrige remembered this, they might still be alive today.

The police recognize the consequences of failure to intervene and take appropriate action against criminals and that is why the story is the same over and over. Bad guys do not want to be jailed so they try to kill their would-be captors who return fire. That is the unalterable truth and will always remain the truth. It cannot be changed just like the sequence of night and day. All those who believe that people are afraid to testify and that police do not testify against or prosecute police should go to jail and ask Vincent Coates. His case destroys that notion.

Your reporters and letter writers cannot determine who is credible. The jury makes that determination after the accusers have been confronted by the accused and the witnesses are seen and heard instead of only just talking to the press. Many witnesses have turned out to be perjurers and many policemen have been fired because of fabricated testimony. The police understand this; the letter writers must also. None of them have felt the pain of a criminal's bullet, cutlass, bottle, knife, pitchfork, rock, stave, acid, or false accusation, nor were they ever within hearing of gunfire, but they are all experts on excessive force. I ask all of them, did anyone ever pull a gun on you? Think about it real hard and try to imagine the fear that envelops you. You have nothing to fear from the police if you are doing nothing wrong.

The challenge we face is to arm, equip and compensate the GPF like other law enforcement agencies around the world because ultimately crime control is contingent on a strong GPF that must triumph over the criminal element. After all, it was you who editorialized, " The mob must not be allowed to prevail." Your call for the control of guns must reverberate around the halls of power and should be on top of the list of the new commissioner as he executes his plans to fight crime.

Yours faithfully,

Amar Singh