Guyana Chronicle
November 5, 2006

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AGAINST the backdrop of what came to be known as the sensational ‘tapegate’ controversy, former Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force, Winston Felix, went on pre-retirement leave in July, ahead of the August 28 general elections. Felix's leave ended last month and we wish him well in his retirement.

The focus now is on the appointment of a new Commissioner of the more than 3,500-strong GPF. An obvious choice is the candidate currently acting in that post, Mr. Henry Greene. A very experienced officer of the GPF, he had previously acted as Commissioner during Felix's tenure, whenever this became necessary.

Whether one likes or dislikes the acting Commissioner, whatever the reason - personal, political or professionally-related - it would be neither fair nor honest to ignore the anti-crime offensive that has gained momentum under his relatively short watch as head of the Force.

There remains so much yet to be done in combating the challenges posed by the armed criminal gangs. But the successes achieved over recent months would have involved shared cooperation and commitment by other high-ranking officers in command of various divisions and operations. Their collective efforts must be commended.

However, with the impending appointment of a new Commissioner, detractors of Mr. Greene have already started to wave their little red flags with all the prejudices they could muster, with hopes of frustrating his confirmation.

Not surprisingly, one such 'flag' carries what could be viewed as a "disapproval" stamp from U.S. authorities over unsubstantiated allegations that he may have "benefited materially" from drug trafficking.

The Guyana Government had requested evidence to substantiate this serious charge. Evidently, the U.S. sources of the allegation are yet to produce the facts

The allegation, strongly denied by Greene, was unofficially linked to the sudden revocation of his U.S. visa, a development which itself should perhaps be subjected to independent review to ascertain whether there has been an abuse of process involving local and foreign collaboration.

It would be recalled that revocation of Greene's U.S. visitor's visa had come on the eve of his acting appointment as Commissioner. Trial by allegations has evolved, most regrettably, as a sickness of this nation's political culture. Victims include Guyanese of all sectors and walks of life, among them leading political and business leaders and members of the legal profession.

Therefore, decision-makers across the political divide should, in the interest of justice and good governance, resist temptations to give this sickness permanence.

If observations by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, at last week's media briefing offer a guide, the Jagdeo administration appears quite willing for Greene to be confirmed as Police Commissioner.

As reported in yesterday's Chronicle, when he was asked whether Greene will be appointed Commissioner of Police, Luncheon's quick response was: "To be honest, the likelihood of somebody else is a bit remote...I can't imagine going to find somebody else when the acting Commissioner has performed creditably..."

For such an endorsement to be effective in Greene's favour, the cooperation of parliamentary Opposition Leader, Robert Corbin, would also be required in the consultative process with President Bharrat Jagdeo.

In the current atmosphere of anxieties over the criminal rampage and threats posed to the national fabric by gangs armed with very sophisticated weapons, a repeat of the long period it took in the case of confirmation of Winston Felix as Police Commissioner should be avoided.