Police for higher profile in city
-name change from 'Force' to 'Service' agreed
Stabroek News
April 26, 2004

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Police officers have decided that the Guyana Police Force must be renamed the Guyana Police Service, and law enforcers will be more visible through the reintroduction of the beat-duty system starting in Georgetown.

These decisions were arrived at during the three-day Annual Conference for Police Officers which started on Thursday and the move by the force's hierarchy to change the word `force' to `service' is to reflect that the organisation "will embark on serving the people of Guyana by delivering quality service," a release from the police said yesterday.

Commissioner of Police Winston Felix threw out the idea of changing the name of the force at the opening of the conference on Thursday and it was hailed by many as a good sign since the police have come under pressure following allegations that some of its members have engaged in extra-judicial killings.

A review of the force's investigative procedures and techniques was also done at the conference and training needs were identified to correct existing deficiencies.

The release disclosed that the officers considered the revamping of the image of the force since, "the attitude of policemen on duty on the road and when in contact with members of the public at the various police stations" was identified as an area "for immediate scrutiny and corrective action."

According to the release the officers recommended high visibility of the police through the beat-duty system and this will commence in Georgetown initially and will be supported by prompt and intelligent responses to reports.

The conference resolved that higher priorities be placed, "on generating appropriate intelligence to confront and engage the fight against illegal drugs and unlawful possession and trafficking in arms and ammunition."

This is said to be significant since the force has been unable to bust drug rings and prosecute members and drug lords even though several high-profile operations involving the transport of drugs from Guyana have recently been broken up in New York. Only drug couriers have been arrested by the authorities here and there is mounting evidence of increased trafficking in weapons.

The release said that much concern was expressed by the officers about the organisation's inability to promptly retrieve relevant records to support interdiction activities and consideration is being given to computerising the system. This issue was raised by both Felix and President Bharrat Jagdeo during the opening session.

High visibility of traffic ranks by day and night to confront speeding, congestion, reckless driving and other forms of traffic violations was considered appropriate to make the roads friendlier and safer.

The conference, the release said, felt challenged to eliminate the ongoing irritants of loud and abusive noise especially from amplified stereo equipment and as a result will be commencing campaigns to target the problem.

The introduction of a medical scheme for police ranks was also focused on together with an existing anomaly where salaries at any given rank are pegged at the same rate regardless of how long the policeman held the rank.

There were also deliberations on the preparation of female ranks to accept challenges, undertake additional roles and greater responsibility and also on the improvement of media relations which will see Divisional Commanders now authorised and equipped to communicate directly with the media on issues pertaining to their area of command.

Improving the public image of the police by prompt and efficient handling of reports, improved investigative skills and feedback to victims was also considered.

Reinforcing the principles governing the use of force by the police was also looked at.

An assessment of the lock-ups at East La Penitence will also be done to determine whether a juvenile centre for males and females should be set up and training will be organised to ensure that ranks stationed in the interior learn Portuguese and Spanish. All community policing patrols will now have to have a policeman who is competent to deal with issues when the need arises.

The conference concluded with the traditional mess dinner and was attended by 128 officers between the ranks of Deputy Commissioners and Cadet Officers and it was held under the theme `Restoring our image through honesty, integrity, effective public relations and efficient public service."