Lewis slams media slant

by Linda Rutherford
Guyana Chronicle
December 23, 1999

POLICE Commissioner Mr Laurie Lewis yesterday accused some media houses of slanting the news and urged a return to what he called `development support communication' journalism.

He said the media need to understand that although crime is a difficult situation to deal with, the Police Force is doing the best it can given the resources it has at its disposal.

All he is asking, he said at the Force's annual awards ceremony, is for the media to be honest in coverage so that the public will come to appreciate the tremendous work being done by the force.

Citing a traffic incident Tuesday in which a Policeman went in a trench to make an arrest, Lewis said the point he wanted to stress was that is how the hierarchy of the Force perceives the agency should be run and what the majority of Policemen do daily. The cop in question was promoted on the spot at yesterday's award ceremony.

Admitting there were instances of Police abuse, Lewis said the question of what constitutes `so much force' is the same now as it was back when he became a rookie in 1961 and just as difficult to define.

"I would be very frank - we do get into trouble with the odd Policeman who decides that abuse of his authority is the way to go, but I want to give the assurance here and through you in the media that we will deal and are dealing with those incidents", the top cop said.

He said, however, that the Force has a better record of dealing with their people than many of the organisations which are wont to criticise it.

Again taking some media to task for the way they handled the recent gun and ammunition bust involving a well-known East Coast businessman, Lewis said they were more concerned with highlighting the fact that the man was a racing driver rather than that he was allegedly bringing weapons into the country illegally.

Warning of elements in the society who would wish to break the morale of the Force to "indulge in their own nonsense", Lewis said the time has come for fellow Policemen to reflect upon the situation and not sit idly by "and allow the nonsense to go on".

They should not "allow that type of situation to develop where people can say whatever they want to or slant the news in the direction in which they want at the expense of other people", he declared.

He appealed to the media to come out in support of the Police Force and return to the days of development support communication.

"I am asking for a relationship with the press which ensures that there is development support coming from the communications sector", Lewis said.

He announced that from next year there will be a public relations person in each of the Force's divisions to respond promptly to allegations levelled against it by the public and the media.

He also promised that the new year will see a return to its former glory of the Police Force as a force to reckon with in the area of sports.

Among those receiving commendations and awards for sterling performance during the year, at the Tactical Services Unit Drill Square, Eve Leary, Georgetown, were Police ranks and members of Community Policing Groups (CPGs) countrywide.

Lewis said the CPGs were "the people who come out of a genuine concern for law and order in the country".

Noting that these groups daily give of their time, strength and support in the maintenance of law and order, Lewis said there are few ways open to him to express his gratitude other than to do so publicly in the hope that the media give it the same prominence other matters related to the Police get.

The title of overall `Best Cop', which carried a $30,000 cash incentive and trophy, went to `A' Division's Lance Corporal London, who also copped the `Best Cop' title in his division. For the latter commendation he was awarded a cash incentive of $20,000 and a trophy.

The title of runner-up overall `Best Cop' went to Inspector Trotz of `D' Division. He carted off a total of $40,000 in cash incentives and two trophies.

Distance runner, Constable Smith was awarded `Sportsman of the Year' and Lance Corporal Burnett, abroad on a scholarship, `Sportswoman of the Year'. Each received a trophy and $20,000.

The title of `Sports Personality for the Year' went to international cricket umpire Assistant Superintendent (ag) Nicholls and Corporal Hermonstine. Each received $10,000.

Cash incentives given out at yesterday's ceremony amounted to $3.9M and were paid out to a total of 809 Police ranks.

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