Talk show hosts have influenced killings of policemen - Top Cop
July 24, 2002
Acting Commissioner of Police Floyd McDonald on Monday blasted television talk show hosts whose utterances he said have influenced the spate of police killings and banditry engulfing the nation.
McDonald told reporters at a press conference on Monday’s siege at Rose Hall in which two policemen and a 17-year-old were killed that the talk show hosts and other unnamed persons have been making statements which are inconsistent with order and discipline. He did not identify particular talk show hosts.
“I cannot say that it is politically motivated but what I know is that statements are being made in public by persons who have influence over the minds of some persons,” the Commissioner said. “They are unhelpful and they are aggravating the situation resulting in innocent policemen being killed unnecessarily. Those men (on Monday morning) there—was no need to kill them,” he stated.
“When they make those statements they influence persons who have simple minds to take certain action to the detriment of the Guyana Police Force and the citizens of this country.”
He pointed out that at a recent funeral at Buxton, East Coast Demerara, it was said that for every black person killed a policeman would be killed.
The warning “shoot got shoot back” was also peddled, he stated. He asserted that persons go on television to say only innocent black people are being killed by policemen.
“In fact one TV host said kill the police and kill their families. That was said on television. When these things are being said simple minds tend to accept them and respond,” he charged.
McDonald said, additionally, persons may have their own vendettas and use the opportunity to deal with them. Monday’s killings brought to eight the number of policemen who have been slain by gunmen since early April.
The Commissioner said the Laws of Guyana needed to be updated to deal with the television talk shows. He said if a person went on television and did not identify himself there was no way the police could lay charges.
“We cannot go and arrest people like that because of the limitations of the law but we probably could take civil action against a person or the television station but then the damage would have already been done.”
He disclosed that a task force was addressing this issue and was examining possible instances of racial incitement and incitement to murder. The Advisory Committee on Broadcasting recently censured several TV stations for unacceptable broadcasts.
“People are taking advantage of the situation. None of us in this country is benefitting from what is happening now. None of us!” the Commissioner declared.
“The only persons who are benefitting are the criminals. And we need to take stock of the situation and bring it to a grinding halt before it gets out of control.”
McDonald stated that the killing of police ranks - eight since early April - is a cause of concern for the force and he argued that the murders were a reaction to the public statements being made encouraging people to do so. Calling for more support from the public for the police force, McDonald said there is a misconception being bandied about that it is unsafe to give police information.
He stated the police do not ask anyone to identify himself/herself when giving information so there could be no danger of exposing anyone.
Despite the misconception, the police have been receiving information from a number of sources but it has not been accurate enough to assist in the capturing of the criminals.
“People have been calling because people have been fed up with the current situation, and they will support the police,” McDonald declared.