The Crumbling Security Architecture

Something is happening within and to the Guyana Police Force that is very troubling. There is a negative transformation taking place and it is giving rise to a feeling of foreboding. Last weekend I decided to use public transportation to get around which besides being enjoyable whenever I do, also allows me to sample the views of our reasonable men and women. If there is one word that sums up the feeling that was conveyed tome last week it is “oppression”. The people feel oppressed by the system be it represented by GPL, GWI or the Guyana Police Force. Of all, I got a sense that the Guyana Police Force was most egregious and offensive in the eyes of John ‘P’ and ‘Q’ Public.

I don’t believe that the force has ever been as estranged from the citizens it is supposed to serve and protect as it is today and something has to be done urgently to restore the lost confidence. People want to be law abiding and to be regulated by a rules-based system that applies to all equally. However, it is the poor who are without political or other important connections who bear the brunt of a police force that is running out of control. The respect is lost and only the Guyana Police Force can restore that which has been lost. This is the sad reality even as the as it is in the midst of celebrating its 171st anniversary whilst preparing to bury some of its precious ranks. The people feel disconnected and afraid and this is building into a rage against the members of the Police Force. The point has to be made that if we had continued with the British funded Security Sector Reform Plan our security architecture would not be crumbling as it is now. The fundamental truth that we need comprehensive and holistic security sector reform is irrefutable and the PPP regime cannot continue to ignore it.

The Hunt for The Cobra

There was something unsettling about the manner in which the residents of East Ruimveldt were thrown into a dangerous gun battle last week as members of the Guyana Police Force’s elite squad continued its hunt for the ubiquitous “Tyrone Rowe aka “Cobra”. Unsettling because, prior to the incident, which saw members of the “anti-crime” unit firing indiscriminately after suspects, the Guyanese public knew, and still knows, very little about this teenager who has become the state’s highest crime priority. He is obviously the most valuable target being pursued by the squad at this time. I must confess that prior to the events of last Sunday I paid little attention to the name Cobra” but on making enquiries I am only told that he is wanted for allegedly committing several robberies. My instinct tells me that there is more to this teenager “Cobra” and his story than we are being told by the police force.

Already, several persons have been shot and at least one person killed due to the hunt for him. In fact, it would seem appropriate to say that arrest or apprehension do not appear to be the orders of the squad as they seek him. Prior to Sunday, I do not recall seeing a wanted bulletin of the man accompanied with a recent photograph and information on the crimes he allegedly committed. This is strange and troubling.

There is a déjà vu feeling here as readers should remember the grand accusations following the attack on the High Court, the Brickdam Police Station and the Richard Ishmael Secondary School in November last year. Then, the nation was told that there was a “terroristic” gang being directed by an “intellectual author” living in the US. The police top brass went further to say that they knew who the perpetrators were and that they were closing in on the mastermind in the US. I certainly formed the opinion that this was an “open and shut” case. Alas, now after eight months, that investigation seems to have been mysteriously dropped. I expect the Commissioner of Police will update us very shortly on these crimes and on the dozens of unsolved murders that are piling like a graveyard both metaphorically and physically. Was there ever a mastermind, and was there indeed a band of terrorists that burnt the Ministry of Health? Is this group of insurgents still at large and who is their leader? These are fare questions that deserve an answer.

I do hope that before long more information will be released on Cobra and that the young man will be captured and not killed so that for once we can have the true story.

The Death of a Police Officer In Any Circumstances Is a National Loss

Within the past week, the Guyana Police Force has lost four of its prized ranks due to tragedy, and the Alliance For Change joins with the members of the GPF, and the families of the bereaved to extend our sincerest condolences at this time of their loss. The deaths have come allegedly, by accident, murder and an apparent suicide, and at this time, the Police Force, and indeed the entire nation, can ill afford to lose its young ranks and officers through death in unnatural circumstances.

We are not unmindful of the fact that even though ranks of the force are often condemned for committing atrocities against members of the public, they themselves are drawn from the very society that is often against them and therefore deserve of our praise, commendation, and at times like these, our sympathy.

The AFC calls on the administration to pay more attention to the welfare of serving and retired ranks of the Disciplined Forces so as to ensure that they are properly honoured not only in life, but also in death, and that in instances where the demise is in tragic circumstances, and whilst on duty, that the relatives be sufficiently, and compensated not on an ad hoc but, rather, transparent and rules based system that ensures that a rank’s years of service, size of family, and circumstances of death determine the magnitude of the financial award that the beneficiaries will receive.