We must help the police force, not hinder them
Stabroek News
February 27, 2002

Dear Editor,

Over the weekend, I returned from a conference seeking the path to global peace, love and morality. Sadly the news over the past few weeks suggests a certain decline in our city and society.

When some eight years ago, I called for a moral and spiritual revival as the best formula to make Guyana a good place, some scoffed, one newspaper writer sought to make fun of this idea. Reviewing the news over the last several days comments on the Guyana Human Rights Association report attracted my attention.

The emphasis seemed to be on what they refer to as killings by our police force.

We must be concerned when any life is taken, I am, but in our circumstances we must appreciate all of the conditions available to achieve, what many may consider, justice.

When political leaders, the media, and some organizations seek to pontificate on the question of human rights publicly, we need a deeper examination of the rights of each segment of society.

First, our police force, I underscore that our police is a part of the wider society, and unless we deal with the existing moral decay, all other efforts will be a waste of effort.

On my recent visit to Asia, I took note of the facilities given to police forces, in that part of the world which allowed them to function effectively, providing continuous training, psychological as well, good salaries, modern facilities and equipment.

To the credit of GHRA this point was made. In my own area of activity our bureaucrats have been able to frustrate efforts, and Council decisions, to provide our City Police with the basic facilities such as communication equipment and vehicles.

I suspect this lack of appreciation by the administration at City Hall about security may be reflected elsewhere, and may very well be part of the wider problem in our society, and explains the proliferation of private security services.

The police need to be highly mobile and equipped these days.

Beyond that I ask the GHRA to be as thorough and vocal by providing us with a list of persons, sons and daughters, fathers etc, executed by the Guyana Criminal Force. Sunday newspapers reported that two soldiers were attacked and a concerned citizen trying to help, was executed by the Guyana Criminal Force. The death toll could have included the two soldiers. As I write, a report has just come to hand of a prison officer killed and a female seriously injured.

I recall sitting last Xmas with an upper class family and their friends. They were being very severe on our police. I narrated an incident that occurred earlier that year of a family being terrorised, a 15 year old girl raped and the family jewels with historic value being taken away. I asked the main speaker if that had been her daughter what would be her reaction. The question ended the tirade against the police.

Some victimised families avoid the media for all sorts of reasons. Let us be fair to the police, they are merely responding to a serious social problem that exist, a world and environment that glamourises violence at the highest level. We are taught from infancy that the way to solve a problem is by violence. Let us direct our energies, and resources to correct these ills in our society.

The GHRA if they wish to help must get down to the core issues and join with the many religious groups and others, who seek to change people from being evil to be good. This must be our duty. This is not an easy task, not one that can be achieved overnight, but the effort must be made, and a start made now. The thieves and murderers are themselves victims of violent domestic environments.

But this bashing of an over worked, poorly equipped and underpaid police force is not at all helpful. The analysis must start with a dossier of the acts of violence committed by the criminal community against our brothers, fathers, daughters etc.

By the way a neighbour has put up his house for sale reason, a recent spate of robberies had the home almost cleaned out by thieves on more than one occasions. I suppose if they are cornered by the police and dealt with only then will the GHRA make their voices heard.

The next task of the GHRA should be to collect and compile the following:_

1. Value of goods etc stolen from hardworking decent citizens.

2. How many persons have been affected mentally as a result of a feeling of insecurity in their homes and businesses. This also affects productivity.

3. How many persons were injured or killed over the same period by non police action.

How many families have had their lives changed for the worse as a result of criminal activity.

How much is being spent to provide extra security because of those who prefer to steal rather than do an honest day's work.

I await the compilation of this information, perhaps we can also ask the many families who have suffered in one way or another but have not made reports to come forward so that we obtain a better picture of what is taking place today.

Some politicians have joined the band of those who attack and chastise the police. Let us use our influence and energies to help the police. I repeat, many of these young men who end up as criminals have had a bad start to life, some were brutalised by society, and even by their own parents, by some organisation, or by some boss. Many feel that the world had turned against them.

In any organisation even the Church or state you will find a few "bad eggs" but that is life.

We must help the police force, not hinder these courageous men and women who protect us.

Finally, we must not encourage those who ask to disband the Police Special Unit.

Every unit must have a specially trained and equipped team to deal with unusual occurrences.

Yours faithfully,

Hamilton Green J.P.,