Prayers for the police Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
May 31, 2002

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Trying hard to be brief today, I've combined two issues and events in the caption. As another policeman was shot and died once again, I listened to a Reverend Geoffrey Thompson praying for members of the Joint Services on Monday evening. And cynical and soft on religion as I am, I often wonder whose prayers God answers, and when. What are his criteria?

I'll come back to that after I share with you the concerns of an apolitical, professional, sometimes-friend of mine. This gentleman would, most likely, still vote PNC - if pressed - mainly because of unfortunate "tribal" affiliations to kith and kin. But he is still a good friend of mine and a fan of this column. Some of the things he said to impress and scare me.

The Police effort to recapture the escapees is severely compromised by the "network of support" being given to them by conspirators. And my friend claims to know that there is some complicity flowing to the fugitive criminals straight from two segments of the joint services themselves. I refused to believe! After all, how abhorrent! For if there is complicity, it means two dirty, insidious things to me: uniformed law-enforcement people are probably accessing rewards from loot stolen by the bandits and secondly, insider complicity would quite likely result in the deaths of good uniformed men because of the mercenary treachery of other uniformed men. God forbid, that that is happening. I won't believe it.

But my friend wasn't finished there. He asked me why Stabroek News didn't seem to be privy to the dramatic scoops regarding crimes committed - or to be committed - that another 'paper seems to have an insider hotline to. I suggested that 'paper's tenacity and sources and a pipeline to police leaks as being fairly legitimate in the journalism business. No, intoned my all-knowing senior pal, even for those tips money is exchanging hands. What's bad about those scoops - and future ones - is that they can also compromise police operational procedures, capabilities and intelligence? Even the scooping of the competition should take a distant second-place to compromising confidentiality, which could very well lead to fatalities.

Oh no, I groaned inwardly. No media house in Georgetown would be party to such mischief that would sell 'papers at the expense of criminals' success and policemen's failure and, perhaps, their deathly departures. Even ubiquitous baccoos should not compromise the security of our law enforcement agencies. What price a scoop?

The Prayer Initiative and Rally by the Council of Churches on Monday evening was laudable and noble. However, to Bishop Edghill and all his well-meaning, sometimes American-sounding Pastors and Reverends, I issue a few challenges. Next time, preserve and show me you could actually walk with just fifty members of your own church. At the minimum. Those same believers willingly become - rampaging protesters when called upon. As Christians your members have the right to protest and strike. So teach them procedure - and tolerance.

Or take your crusade and prayers to the protesters and errant villagers when they are on the move. Distribute prayer-guides during demonstrations. Your God will protect you from any harm, I'm sure. Often you tend to preach to the converted and to the peacemakers. You need to go amongst the trouble-makers and confront them with the love of your God. If you're up to it.

Reverend Thompson prayed for all - Joint Services, our "young" President, the escaped criminals, the frightened populace. So tell me if I've got this right: When God doesn't immediately heed the prayers of the righteous - when He allows the policeman you prayed for, to die - I suppose it means that He is displeased with some behaviour, some sin committed by those you prayed for. The fault lies with your members. Not with Him. For surely, your God wouldn't discriminate in favour of criminals. Even though He made them too. Assist me here.

Chapultepec - source and mischief

Admittedly, I've misplaced my own copy of the media-friendly, freedom-of-the-press Declaration of Chapultepec which this country readily signed on to last Friday. So I'll leave for another time any comment on the Principle regarding sources.

I hear it protects journalists from being obliged to reveal their confidential sources (?). Again, laudable. But what a haven for our breed of journalistic activists and mischief-makers. Too many of our evil-doers manufacture their own "sources" then practise what the Caribbean media specialists found out last year: "I'll provide the rumour - you get the proof. (Or the "source").

Oh well, I'll return to that soon. As I will to IAPA's Ricardo Trotti's position that (only) after the freedom is granted, that responsibility should be insisted upon. But look, let me "read up" first.


1) Imagine this scenario: Guyana's fire fighters are unionised fully. The union leaders call a strike - even a go-slow. Angry protesters decide to march. They - or criminals who "infiltrate" their ranks - decide to burn.

2) A "Hot Calaloo" Newsletter on the Internet, sympathetic to Guyana's "Indians", raises an interesting point: at which stage does CARICOM step in to prevent or stop bloodshed in a member-state?

3) "Watch whuh yuh write", the man advised, "Big Ones at all levels are involved..." I'm pondering the accuracy - and the implications.

4) I'll spare the soft Government 'til next week.

'Til next week!