Corporal Dalton’s dilemma Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
October 31, 2003

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Assume that there is a “Corporal Dalton” in the Guyana Police Force. Just for the purpose of this piece which might not be that imaginary or hypothetical after all. And imagine that my “Corporal Dalton” is an eager, experienced, honest and dedicated policeman, now thirty-three years old and attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the force. Yes, let us agree that he is a “detective”, having been transferred from the quick response group, after gaining his promotion for great work in that unit.

My corporal, during all his ten years in the force, remained steadfast and beyond corruption against all odds and pressures - from within and without his organisation. Pressure to succumb, to participate in gross even evil wrong-doing mounted during the post jail-break crime wave. Now partly because of what he actually knows, our good corporal is faced with a dilemma of sorts. Should he or shouldn’t he? If he does, he stands to receive a substantial sum of money from a shady “businessman”, which finance would instantly wipe off his embarrassing back-log of debts and smooth the way for the arrival of his third child in a month’s time.

If a dilemma is a choice between unfavourable alternatives or between two (equal) evils the corporal realises that it began a few months ago when he was the lead investigator in what appeared at first to be a “simple” murder case. At least one eyewitness claimed, initially, to have seen a young man shoot another in the business establishment in the capital city. Suddenly the eyewitness, sounding very scared changed his tune. Then the corporal’s superior hinted that the alleged shooter was a nephew of a leading politician - not that there was anything connecting the politician to the murder. Notwithstanding the simple fact that the weapon used belonged to the politician-uncle. And was not “yet” licensed.

Our corporal Dalton, against the background of an unblemished personal record of dealing with facts, evidence, corroboration and proof, would not be intimidated. At first. Then the owner of the business place let drop that the Corporal’s superior, other officers and a few other really big ones all had on-going “Accounts” with his establishment. The revelation was made to sound like an inducement. But our Corporal would not be deterred from pursuing his normal investigative work, for which he had been trained, locally and overseas. Until the businessman “explained” to him that his - the Corporal’s - own wife’s little sister was “friendly” with the young suspect and benefited from gifts and largesse from the establishment also.

Didn’t some of the latter find its way into the Corporal’s own home in the past? Oblique, outrageous implications?

Corporal Dalton meditated on what he knew.

He had experienced, in the Quick Reaction Squad and in the present department, both junior and senior ranks being induced to accept bribes, to arrest wrong persons or to do nothing at all. Fellows’ salaries and allowances were inadequate. They really did take great risks during the Crime Wave and they had great needs like everyone else. It was fashionable to do the wrong things as old time values meant nothing to certain enforcement officers and even some judicial officers of the courts. How often he felt like an outcast for being clean and upright. The pressures were enormous. Cops using the Force’s communication equipment to put their colleagues in danger.

From the outside, he saw official assistance being offered to the “decent” drug lords in exchange for vehicles or foolproof back track opportunities. He saw one businessman donating a computer to the police in exchange for certain information being deleted from their own old computer. He suspected a senior officer was building a new house with materials contributed by a businessman whose son “got off” from a “causing-death-by-dangerous-driving” case, when witnesses were persuaded to leave the country. Weighing on our Corporal’s conscience was the fact that he could complain to few seniors. Everyday, numerous new crimes, same investigative staff. He could really earn lots, without boasting of convictions.

I’ll end this tale rather abruptly by telling you that our Clean Corporal decided to accept a substantial “incentive” from the shady, intermediary businessman. Implications were rife for the Corporal’s loved ones, his superiors and his peer. So he took the needed dirty money, resigned from the force and proceeded to study law! And he wasn’t “fooling” himself when he proclaimed that there are still more good cops than bad.

Chinese discipline, Guyanese “style”

Even if the Doomsday Prognosticators and the professional oppositionist and media naysayers are accurate about this country’s early demise, I have to appreciate the efforts of others to distract us, however superficially, from the inevitable doom.

I refer to recent and current observances and events; Diwali, UN week observances, celebration concert for Viola Burnham’s life, sporting events (cycling, athletics) held locally, numerous public parties, upcoming motor sports, events in New Amsterdam and Linden, Byron Lee and Buxton Spice, etcetera, etcetera. But a word on the Chinese acrobatic and martial arts troupe which performed over this past week-end.

I realised that it was just fourteen artistes who appeared to be about two dozen! Apart from their disciplined, precision thrills, they took turns in cleaning and managing the stage in between acts. Mere seconds were needed to do this. And the average age of the troupe turned out to be ten years, or at the most twelve! Which means that those young Chinese were undergoing training from five or six years old? Would our mothers (especially) send their five-year-old daughters to Gymnastic or Acrobatic Schools?

I hope we learn from troupes like that Chinese Group. Discipline breeds achievement. Whatever their political, social system, discipline helps. And it just helped China to go into space with its first human. Did our “Style” as hosts’ measure up to the expectations of our guests. Well... the shows were a great success. But check the National Cultural Centre. And how we behave on the roads. Amazing (you only believe that I’m rambling...)

So long....

1) I’ve decided to write about the comfort zone of a US visa in another journal. Appropriately, one in New York, NY, USA.

2) The Buxton Chickens will come home to roost here. For Christmas.

3) I shall not arouse the displeasure of our local erudite Swami. But now it is being revealed that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, touted as a man of “unimpeachable integrity” had an affair with Lady Edwina Mountbatten! What!?

4) See other writers for the more contentious issues.

5) See you at Byron Lee

`Til next week!