Commissioner Felix will face numerous challenges
Stabroek News
May 1, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Unlike several contributors, I am much less optimistic over the pending appointment of Mr. Winston Felix as Commissioner. While I am in no position to pronounce on his ability to effectively lead the force as is, I feel more concerned with the system of policing and the entrenched hierarchical problems that makes the organization 'out of touch' with the realities of a progressive, dynamic group of professionals, in service to the community.

I certainly know that Mr. Felix would not allow himself to be rubber stamped on the GPF and the people it serves, but his troubles go way beyond a gang of five criminals or, for that matter, the excesses of any special anti-crime strike force (A.K.A. 'The Target Special Squad'). Like so many of the rest of the society, he too must come to realize that the pervasiveness of crime stymies any or all development and, as such his leadership is pivotal to not only his organization, but to the democratic process and development, in the bigger picture.

Based on the mandate of the GPF, Mr. Felix must establish and disseminate a worthwhile vision for his organization that encapsulates a community-based philosophy and creates an environment that fosters the development of a professional code of ethical behavior. More importantly, he has to break the 'old boy network' (or what is known in the more industrialized countries as 'the thin blue line') by clearly separating the major functions of the GPF and appointing competent professionals to oversee them. The GPF has to move away from the system of apportioning command geographically and assign them to functions that establish responsibility and an accountability for results. And this is just the start. Next comes the task of involving the community in the whole process of crime prevention.

Mr. Felix has to remove the community's mindset from that of vigilante-styled policing groups to one where they rely and feel assured of their trust in the GPF. The benefits of a PR office are essential but there must be a qualified officer/s who manage the community relations of the GPF directly. This is a separate and distinct function that has the authority to interact across commands, to ensure that efforts at community-based policing remains effective.

Mr. Felix's job is an unenviable one and offers numerous challenges, including the much less popularized one of tackling the work of organized local and international crime that is deep-rooted in the Guyanese society. He has my best wishes.

Yours faithfully,

Merrill Hyman Sr.