The new Commissioner of Police will have to be a superman
Stabroek News
February 11, 2004

Related Links: Letters on police
Articles Menu Archival Menu

Dear Editor,

Your highly expectant editorial, "Transition," [Monday, Feb 9, 2004] would have us believe that Commissioner designate Winston Felix, like some white knight in shining body armour, is simply going to gallop into the Commis-sioner's office on Young Street on his big white horse and fix it all.

"...One of the primary tasks of the commissioner will be to make a major effort to rebuild the public's confidence in the police force. Mr Felix has an opportunity to draw a solid line under the transgressions that have plagued the force in recent years and to restore professionalism at all levels and policing that has firmness, fairness and decency as its hallmarks..."

It gets better, "...Just as important, Mr Felix has to inject a new sense of fair conduct and accountability in the force. No longer must the public be regaled with the tales of police killings and violence made worse by force cover-ups and failures to accept mistakes."

This is the best part,... "Mr Felix must have each and every policeman and woman understand that from the date of his appointment as Top Cop a new dispensation will be in force and the police will not be allowed to violate policing norms and get away with it. Mr Felix's tenure must see a concerted effort to wipe out unprofessional behaviour and ensure that no injustice is done to the public either through extra-judicial killings, beatings, the soliciting of bribes or other forms of misconduct. Zero tolerance must be the motto..."

Oh Santa, before I forget, oops sorry, I meant Winston, whilst you're at it, would it be asking too much of you to schedule a few common courtesy lectures for your beleaguered ranks and hey for good measure, why don't you throw in free transportation in the patrol car for the station sergeants' wife after church service on Sundays.

In placing such lofty expectations at Mr Felix's feet, expectations which he alone couldn't possibly humanly fulfil, I get the feeling that Mr Felix is presumed to have Atlas' strength.

In this progressively backward political culture, where petty politics defines every sphere of national life, no mention is made of the additional complexities such as political interference, which he will undoubtedly be subjected to as a matter of government policy and which will only serve to make his job that much harder, whether he likes it or not.

No mention is made of the fact that Winston Felix is just one aging mortal who will preside over a legion of imperfect and impertinent mortals, whose morale has been shot to bits over the past two years.

He is expected, it seems, to wave his magic wand and put to right decades of decadence, which has become the hallmark of his disrespected organisation.

It would be quite interesting to see just how he accomplishes the gargantuan tasks you've spelt out before him; it would be quite interesting to see how he washes the blood soaked hands of the force of dozens of presumed innocents, who were cut down by roadside judges, juries and executioners.

It would also be quite interesting to see just how he deals with those menacing roadside traffic magistrates, a phenomenon that has spawned a whole industry of corrupt traffic officers, some of whom have built vast little empires from their ill gotten gains.

Even if you were to give Mr Felix and his charges all the material resources required to effectively execute the functions of their office, without the optimum level of discipline required of his charges it would all come to zero.

Impertinence, corruption, hostility and open contempt for human rights are but a few of the vices that have come to characterise the Guyana Police Force, and it goes without saying, that years of organizational disintegration will not be put to right overnight irrespective of whom is placed at the helm of that sinking ship.

Yours faithfully,

Heston K Rodrigues