Top cop plans serious review of Police operations By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
January 3, 2002

THE Guyana Police Force is to undertake a "serious" review of its operations this year in order to provide a better quality of service to the public, Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald said yesterday.

Key areas of focus will be better community relations, acquiring more resources, training and improving Police working conditions.

McDonald said that in mapping out new strategies, the ultimate objective is to make the Force more "efficient and effective."

The top cop said the Force will work hard to project a better image of itself.

"We will strive this year to have an improvement in our relations with the public because we recognise that without the support of the public, the Police Force would not be able to achieve its mandate. And in any event, our organisation is expected to respond to the concerns and needs of the population," McDonald said.

He pointed out that the Force will place particular attention on training this year, especially in specialist areas like criminal investigation and traffic.

"There is need for us to have an intensification of (such) activity," McDonald said.

The Commissioner said that at the moment the greatest need of the Force is resources.

He said it anticipates an increase in its fleet of vehicles since it is set to benefit from the US$1M President Bharrat Jagdeo promised last June.

"That will significantly enhance our present operational capability," he said.

The Police chief also reported a drop in the number of road deaths from 165 in 2000 to 160 last year, but said this does not indicate that traffic is not a major concern.

"Traffic is a problem, and we need to seriously tackle some of the ills on the roads by being more purposeful in our enforcement activities, firm and being more visible," McDonald stressed.

However, he pointed out this does not mean that that the Force will water down its basic principle of courtesy in dealing with road users and pedestrians.

The number of murders recorded by the Force up to the end of November last year was 79, an increase of about eight from the previous year.

McDonald said that 80-85 per cent of murders in Guyana are solved, noting that this is not "very" high if it is to be calculated by every 100,000 and compared with the rates in other countries.

While he could not offer an assessment of how the Force fared last year in solving murders, one case in which the Police did not make headway was the murder of Bhemchand Barran and his eight-year-old son Morvin, who were found dead at Enterprise backdam, East Coast of Demerara, and Dhanpaul Jagdeo, 22, found dead at Lusignan, also on the East Coast, in the aftermath of the March 19 elections.

McDonald said the Police took a number of statements and despite intensive work in East Coast villages, evidence collected is not enough to hold anyone.

"We had a number of persons under suspicion, but we do not have enough evidence to pinpoint anyone," McDonald said, adding that "murders sometimes take a year to solve. Sometimes it takes two or three years based on the circumstances. "

As a law enforcement organisation, McDonald said the Force has an ongoing battle to fight crime.

"Crime fighting is something dynamic and you have to always find strategies to deal with situations as they arise," he said.

"You have to have two approaches - one, a pro-active approach and two, the ability to react. So you need to have good investigating skills, good intelligence gathering skills...", the Commissioner pointed out.

He said the State has been trying its best to enhance the Force's operational capability and towards this end, there are some promises.

McDonald said there is need for a scientific enhancement of the Force, pointing out that the Police require technical aids to fight crime.

In this regard, community policing groups have offered major support.

"They have contributed significantly to crime reduction, especially in the rural districts."

But while constrained, McDonald said the Force has been doing its best.

"We have been using our limited resources efficiently," he noted.

The Commissioner said that the Force will continue to deal with Police officers who accept bribes from those who want to escape the force of the law.

"As long as we have evidence, we take very strong action against them. In some instances, the policemen go to Court. We do not condone corruption in the Guyana Police Force," McDonald asserted.

However, he said that "a person cannot take bribes unless one gives" and therefore both the giver and taker need to feel the penalty.

"We frown on such behaviour, either by Police or civilians," McDonald said.

While he admitted that there are "deviants" in the Force, he said in general, Police officers perform their duties honourably.

"We have a bunch of committed and dedicated policemen and policewomen, who would go to all out to ensure law and order are maintained," he said.