The police understand the need to keep the peace
Stabroek News
April 14, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I refer to a letter captioned "Citizens still totally vulnerable to criminal attacks" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (3.4.2002) by Rohan Sooklall. In essence, the letter expressed an understandable concern for the safety of citizens - a concern deeply shared by the police force and every Guyanese. The police more than anyone else, understand this need and have been doing all things possible to keep order and peace. They must be commended. However, the use of the word "totally", by the writer, in the particular context, seemed to want to convey the impression that the situation is out of control. This is far from the truth. Though there have been some unhappy occurrences, the most recent being the death of a law enforcement officer, the situation has not escaped the firm grip of the force which has the capacity and ability to manage this kind of activity. A look at the police archives has revealed that, in the past, the force has adequately dealt with similar incidents with good success.

Every day, policemen and women risk their lives while executing their duties. In cases, where persons have lost their lives, there have always been various speculations and different versions told of how they met their unfortunate fate. People are always suspicious that the real story might not yet be told or may have been withheld for reasons best known to them. This is one of the things that make society interesting and it is as it ought to be. But there is a real danger when the suspicions and stories are repeated in public as statements of fact, particularly in the face of a kind of evidence against the official reports, submitted by those concerned.

It is very important that, those, who have the honor and privilege to use the media be balanced and objective for the sake of those who read or listen to them. More than that, negative and inaccurate utterances could have serious consequential implications upon the morale of those involved in policing and security activities. No one should believe that the police are beyond criticism if there is any reason, perceived or otherwise, for dissatisfaction. Indeed, the force itself could not be so na´ve as to think that its officers and ranks would escape criticism on occasion given its wide ranging activities. However, such criticisms must be done against the background of knowledge, an understanding of the key imperatives involved, and with a general view to help. It should not be based on hearsay, unsound assumptions, allegations and suspicions. This could help neither the force nor our society. Surely, everyone is intitled to an opinion, but, not to use this as a statement of fact. This is the problem. We need a friendlier approach to create the right set of conditions that allow peace and order.

Citizens will recall that on January 30, 2002, a monument was dedicated to fallen ranks. The Commissioner of Police in his remarks said that "... the deaths brought untold suffering to the surviving family members and that it was a matter of duty that such a fitting monument be erected as a constant reminder to all of us of the danger and sacrifices policemen and women have to endure in ensuring that law and order are preserved in our country".

It is true that the phenomenon of globalisation has occasioned a more difficult assignment for those concerned with security. Criminals and terrorists have access to more sophisticated weapons.

It is true, too, that developing countries, like ours, are hard-pressed with stringent demands to ensure the integrity of the law on the one hand and human rights on the other. The broad sweep of history has shown that rights and social order must co-exist to strike a real, sensible and sustainable social balance necessary for the stability and prosperity of societies. In other words, the guarantee of rights, as is the responsibility of the state, must be done within the circumstance of social order. Essentially, this is why the emphasis must now be on community policing and community involvement. Each and every one of us must understand that we hold a high stake in a safe country. We must therefore work together to ensure that law, order and peace prevail. Citizens must be the eyes and ears of the police. After all, they're the real custodians of the law.

Yours faithfully,
Royston King,
Public Relations Consultant,
Guyana Police Force