Punishing and Praising Policemen Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
August 16, 2002

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After resisting for just one week, I am constrained, persuaded to return to this grim subject today. Based as it is on the sordid brutal crime wave such as we've never experienced before; saturated with the bad news of daily robberies with extreme violence, as I am, I repeat and share still my views on the lot of our Police Force and its members as extant today - as you read this. As usual, mine is no profound analysis, no grand thesis. But since I am asked by many, I write.

Emphasising the negative first, I repeat the somewhat immodest claim that former Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis made to me publicly. Commissioner Lewis had confidently declared that there was no other state entity which had disciplined its errant members more consistently and frequently than his force. (A cynic's response would have been that "that was because his force had many more errant indisciplined members than any other government agency). I guess that the then Commissioner was making the point that his Force was facing its human resource problem head on even if it reflected or indicated more fundamental flows within the soul and sinews of the organisation. After all as another Commissioner, the late Lloyd Barker often reminded his critics, the Force attracts the quality of resources the same errant wider society produces.

But it is a fact that the Force has been relentless in penalising those members found guilty as charged. Those who follow these matters would find that errant or rogue cops have been charged, over past months, for such crimes as simple larceny, larceny by public officers, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, unlawful wounding, corrupt transaction with an agent, larceny of cattle, demanding with menace, manslaughter, rape, forgery, etc. etc. Across all the divisions, ranks have been charged with the very offences and crimes that they usually charge members of the public for. Obviously the Force is as imperfect as the wider society is. But it is doing something about it!

On the other side of the coin, what is extremely heartening amidst the organised campaign to attack and demoralise the overwhelmingly good majority of the Force, is that the good cops are investigating and charging, when necessary, their own! (I note the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is following suit, though they tend to be more "private" with those matters...) so, we must separate the goats from the sheep. We citizens must not snigger when our good police have to retreat. They are all we have! Note how the Private Security Service Personnel are being toyed with by the criminals. Encourage and support our overworked, underpaid cops. If they are beaten into submission, civilian society will be left substantially defenceless. Out of bad cometh good. The sacrifices paid by our cops so far are resulting in improved conditions. No more those under-equipped cow-pen, fowl-pen outposts. More pay for police, better conditions. All that must be the (new) order of the day. I give praise to the good policemen and women. Like those who took out the murderous outlaws on the U.G Road!

Supermarket of "Justice"

Far be it from me and my unlearned mind to make some of the pointed criticisms of our magistracy, judiciary and entire justice system which I've been reading and hearing recently.

Years ago, after spending many days, nay months in magistrates' courts, I had written a piece titled "The Supermarket of Law." It did seem then that money could have caused, or at least, influenced, the conduct of certain cases and trials. Perhaps I'm too old, cautious or conservative to make certain forthright accusations. What? This is not speaking frankly? However I did read a piece on Registrar Sita Ramlall recently. The challenges she outlined indicate an overburdened judicial system given to certain delays, biases and even open to miscarriages. Then I saw a letter - published twice in the Guyana Chronicle - which I'm sure this newspaper would not have carried "as is". That letter openly accused sections of the judiciary of being influenced by one political (opposition) party!

But I'm not enthused by what I see, hear and sometimes experience in our Courts of Law. Again, they're all we have (?)

Welcome back, WPA!

Though this is no time for levity, as our people are being robbed and killed daily, I can't resist this special welcome back note to the Working People's Alliance - after its obvious sabbatical in resent months. The WPA is "the party that should have been" unfortunately, as a people, by and large politically aware, if not matured, we did not and do not embrace it.

Some of that was as a result of its own doing. (Quiet snobbish arrogance??) But despite Desmond Trotman's and Ogunseye's efforts, I missed the quality of letter-writing and releases that constituted that Party's strength. Intellectual analyses put at the disposal of working people and their (other) leaders.

Now the letters, speeches and releases are once again in full august flow. Hinds, Kwayana, Roopnaraine, Dow, et al are back! Those folks know and articulate what's wrong. But the pity is they can't right things by themselves. But the think-tank power is there. I truly welcome them. I regret that electorally the WPA is lost. Third Force politics will go through several abortions here. Shrewdly, for its visual survival, the WPA embraced the GAP which, in turn, "absorbed" the WPA whilst putting paid to the United Force's (TUF) one-time reputation. Ask Manzoor. For now let's read the WPA releases. And try to implement their suggestions. And find out whatever happened to GAP, GGG, Ally's Group and other campaign "parties."


1) Some bad policemen roughed up three U.S. Army Officers who came to assist our Coast Guard. One thing this (unreported) incident made clear to me: the campaign which has resulted in making our policemen targets has succeeded to the extent that many good policemen are "on their nerves", jittery and eschewing proper procedures sometimes. Can you blame them for any backlash?

2) And I'm going to call on the Home Affairs Minister to respond to Mr. Woolford's "work" on the "Black Clothes" out of Chicago, USA.

3) How is former Commissioner Laurie Lewis getting on? Couldn't he assist with intelligence gathering out of Buxton, for example?

4) Are the Christian Churches in certain East Coast Villages praying to their God hard enough? For themselves and their non-Christian brothers and sisters.

5) Contact the writer of this Column with respect to the two literary competitions - Henry Josiah's children's stories and the Christmas Annual 2002

`Til next week!