Lewis suggests seminars with media houses on perception

Guyana Chronicle
March 9, 2000

POLICE Commissioner Laurie Lewis has charged the media with creating a negative perception of things happening in the Force.

"Perception and reality is an area in the Force we have to deal with all the time, because we have a difficulty with perception and reality of certain things happening," he said when declaring open three training courses at the Police Officers' Mess Annexe, Eve Leary, Georgetown, on Monday.

He said the Force is very concerned about the manner in which media entities present information to the public "in such a way as to purport the truth, when this is not the case."

The programmes are being conducted for Junior Officers, Station Sergeants and inductees of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

"People are not recognising the truth. That perception is prompted by several persons and is snowballed by the Press which influences the public to make it real.

"We have to guard against this dealing with perception. We have to remove the myths of perception," the Commissioner stressed.

He suggested serious dialogue - seminar style - with senior members of media houses "to sit and decide where we are going" to rectify the problem.

The top cop said he would make contact with Information Minister Moses Nagamootoo and arrange the seminars "to clear some of the misconceptions" because he is unaware of any Press Association responsible for the media.

Lewis acknowledged the important role of the media in imparting general information to the public but he feels they "can go further" in reporting traffic accidents and not castigate the Police.

Emphasising the need for training, the Commissioner said it is imperative for every member of the Force to benefit from and be able to cope with the world changes.

"Training for our development is one of the vital aspects of the Force and, if we do not train our ranks, they will be left behind," he agreed.

Lewis said he initiated the training because Government cannot afford to do everything on its own in order to maintain the Force.

The Junior Officers stint is geared to stimulate their professional and intellectual development and prepare them for greater responsibilities in the system.

It is also to help them understand their expected roles, attitudes on the job and prepare them to perform their anticipated functions effectively.

The idea is to attract persons to the Force as many people prefer to conduct mini-buses or sell cigarettes and earn more money.

"We have a difficulty in this respect, where persons selling cigarettes earn more than a constable who faces life threatening situations, the Courts and a hostile Press," he asserted.

The education for Station Sergeants is to enhance their individual human relations skills and ability to transfer knowledge and techniques within the work environment.

He said the CID induction scheme is very important, too, pointing to increasing white collar and sensational crimes while major ones decrease.

As such, officials must be properly trained in the field of criminal investigations.

All the beneficiaries must regard the opportunities as advancement for other programmes in their careers.

Policemen must view training as a form of gaining know-how, developing new ideas and creating better command techniques.

"Never rest on your laurels. You must always have a quest for knowledge," Lewis urged them in the presence of, among others, Assistant Commissioner (Training), Mr Sidney Bunbury.