President David Granger: …because of the importance of the work you do not just for the Government, but for the country as a whole and I’d like to feel to the entire region. On the 1st January I became Chairman of the Caribbean Community and I have to exert influence and I have to exercise care in ensuring that in Guyana [we can] host a variety of important events… In a few days’ time we’ll be sharing the opportunity of welcoming Heads of State and Governments of the Caribbean so I have learnt over the last 20 months to rely on the police force for its discipline and its sense of duty and I look forward to that in the future. So it’s good to be here and thank you for including me in your programme.
First of all Commissioner, allow me to congratulate the senior officers who were advanced in rank this year and to thank you collectively for the improvement in the quality of security in Guyana during 2016. As the Commissioner pointed out, in 2015 we established a National Security Committee and that Committee meets every Tuesday and in the absence of the Commissioner, [Assistant Commissioner] Mr. Ramnarine attended and several other senior police officers also attended. The important thing is that we should learn from each other, we should speak to each other to ensure that the ultimate objective of making Guyana a safer place is achieved.
This Annual Police Officers’ Conference is taking place in the first month of the year. As you would have seen, we now present our budget late in the preceding year and this meant that by November last year you would have gotten a good idea of the financial allocation for the Guyana Police Force, which means that we could hit the ground running in the new year – and I would like this to become a tradition so that as early as possible in the new year the police force knows its allocation – and a budget is just a financial plan that’s all it is, a financial plan and you can’t plan if you don’t have a budget, you can’t run your house if you don’t have a budget. So let us not have the conference later in the year in February or March, let us have it as early as possible so that divisional commanders and other officers can go out into their divisions and implement the plan so this is the best time to plan.
Now in my view, it may not be in accord with what might have been said previously at this Conference, you have three functions:
First of all, you have to examine the state of law enforcement and security in the country and looking at the programme I can see that this has been done.
Secondly, you have to examine policy in relation to the budget because if you don’t have a budget to repair your buildings or acquire vehicles you would not be able to achieve your plan. And then you need to design a plan of action within each particular division and every division is different, every division is different; I always laugh at my friend, well not laugh at, I always sympathise with Mr. Boodram because he’s got the biggest division in the whole western hemisphere, ‘F’ Division, but every division needs to have a plan, a plan of action as to how it will deal with crime and disorder in that particular division.
Officers, change is continuous and change is compelling. What was good for 1996 may not have been good for 2006. What was good for 2006 definitely was not good for 2016 and what we need in 2017 may itself become obsolete in five or ten years’ time. So we have to prepare for change. The nature of crime, particularly transnational crime demands new attitudes and new techniques. When you look at the television what do you see? You see a man with a truck, you see a man with a bus driving into a crowd killing persons. Its criminal but who would ever have thought that you would use a bus or a plane or a truck to commit mass murder but it is happening now. So you have to be aware of the changes that are taking place in crime.
In September last year a plane landed in Yupukari; the police didn’t know, the army didn’t know, civil aviation didn’t know. It brought in some white powdery substance, we don’t know, but crime continues to change. So we cannot sit on our hands, we have to respond to the transnational crimes. They may not have a domestic origin but what we do know is that they may have come across the border. We have a 1,300 kilometre border with Brazil- 1,300 kilometres- and Brazil is the fifth largest manufacturer of small arms in the world and we know that trafficking is taking place; trafficking in persons is taking place; other forms of contraband are taking place.
So we need new attitudes, new techniques and therefore we have to continuously reform the criminal justice system if we are to protect society from violent crime. Not only from across the border but also from inside our own borders; not only inside of our borders but also inside of our homes because more than ever before we are seeing that interpersonal violence, violence between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend could very frequently, sometimes between two friends drinking at a wedding party, results in the commission of a serious crime and as police officers we need to be aware that there is change taking place continuously; you cannot sit on your hands.
So continuous reform is needed to professionalise the officer corps of the police force; to prepare them intellectually to provide the quality of leadership in their divisions – that leadership is there to reposition the force to effectively counter the transnational threats, which impacts on domestic crime. Continuous reform is imperative to allow the force to remain relevant, to rebuild public trust and together the government and citizens of society make our country safer and more secure.
The ultimate objective of our policy is to ensure that every citizen is safe. It is not to build big stations; it is to make sure every citizen in your division is safe. Safe from antisocial behaviour, safe from crime, safe from disorder, safe from traffic accidents and some of you would know, when I come to your division I would ask you, “How are things going?” “What is happening?” And I expect the truth from you and I think I have been getting the truth.
Officers, the Government is committed to providing the support you need to ensure human safety of all citizens and of course, of national security of the State in order to create a framework for national development. We cannot develop the country if there is continuous instability or insecurity. Therefore, this year as you would have learnt we will launch a process of reform, assisted by our international partner, in particular the United Kingdom of Great Britain. We expect to win the support of civil society and we expect that at the end policing in Guyana will be improved.
The reforms in general will involve new approaches to preventing crime by improving intelligence and by proactive deployment and you would have seen that over the past 40 months we’ve made some minor changes in deployment – that is the commander of ‘F’ Division is no longer comfortably at Eve Leary. He’s in a more comfortable place at Bartica, in ‘F’ Division itself. Every division commander has to live in the division. He can’t run the division by a remote control; he has to live in the division. He must aim at protecting victims and vulnerable persons from criminal behaviour or disorder. We must aim at promoting greater public confidence in the officers themselves through ethical conduct, and we must aim at promulgating measures to build the force’s capacity and its capability.
The reforms which the government proposes must first discover the causes of crime and second, it must implement measures and provide resources to reduce crime. This does not ignore traditional approaches to policing based on crime prevention, crime detection, crime interdiction and criminal prosecution which you all learnt in training school like ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, but we must go beyond and we must find out the causes of crime.
Why is there piracy? Why is there suicide? Why is there murder? Why is there rape? Why is there trafficking in my division? What are the causes? There’s no point boasting about how many cases you’ve made, find out how many causes you’re able to discover. Let us stamp out the causes; you stamp out the causes, you stamp out the crime. If you don’t know the cause, the crimes will continue to be repeated over and over again.
Officers, violence in Guyana today represents, in part, the effects of what I call the secondary impact of a dark period. That period is the first decade of this millennium. Many persons may not have understood what took place and they may … have forgotten this period which I call ‘the troubles’. ‘The troubles’ saw the emergence of drug cartels. ‘The troubles’ saw the emergence of phantom squads and those squads were participants in the murders of over 1,400 persons or some of the 1,400 persons who were killed between 2000 and 2009 – 1,400 murders in that decade. Guyanese witnessed and some children witnessed, the murders, the bloodletting, the beheading, the summary executions and many Guyanese are still reeling from the aftershocks of ‘the troubles’.
Police officers need to understand this period because at no other time in the history of the Guyana Police Force were so many police officers killed on duty. It’s not a closed chapter, there’s a monument next door which was constructed in the memory of those officers. It must not happen again. It must not happen again, we must find out why it happened, what is the cause. Find out if some of the persons sitting down next to us were complicit in ‘the troubles’ either by action or omission and they might have allowed those crimes to take place.
We know that there were problems. Let us not assume that those problems have gone away or that those problems cannot recur. (By the way, Commissioner must remind me to give some money to the fund for the children of the persons who were killed. Allow me to give you a little; a million dollars… a million dollars there helps you know. [Applause.] So it’s not that I like giving away money, but the children deserve the support of the government.)
But I hope we don’t have so many killings of police officers ever again but officers bear with me, let us look back to see what was happening over the last 18 years and ask yourselves whether the best was done or better could have been done.
In 1999, Mr. Paul Matthias, the United Kingdom’s Regional Advisor came to this country and he started a process of security assistance – 18 years ago – 1999. In 2000 the Simmons Group, who were consultants for DfID – the Department for International Development – presented its report called the Guyana Police Reform Programme; people call it the Simmons Report – since 2000.
In 2000 as well, we saw the establishment of the National Security Strategy Organising Committee. Some of you may not even have known there was such a committee. In 2002, when the disorder became extremely violent we saw the promulgation of a hundred-million-dollar menu of measures to improve the police force. People even promised the police force airplanes. We saw the President at the time travelling to London to meet the Commission of the Metropolitan Police; I don’t know why he didn’t send the Commissioner, he went himself. We saw the establishment of Border National Security Committee. I happened to serve on that Committee; I don’t know what happened to the report. Then we saw the establishment of a National Consultation on Crime; I think Bishop Edghill chaired that. Then there was a National Steering Committee on Crime. The same year we saw the passage in the National Assembly, in September, of four anti-crime bills: The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, The Prevention of Crimes Amendment Bill, The Racial Hostility Amendment Bill and The Evidence Amendment Bill. I am sure that your legal officers or your police legal advisor could discuss the impact of these Bills.
In 2003, we saw another UK defence advisory team which came down to study the security sector. 2004, we saw the establishment of the Disciplined Forces Commission. I myself was on that commission and the majority of recommendations were about reform of the Guyana Police Force. Then between 2004 and 2005 we saw the Scottish Police College executing several projects, including a scoping exercise to assess the police force’s training requirements. They conducted a series of management training programmes; they conducted an assessment of the impact of previous programmes; they conducted a scoping exercise to determine the needs of the police force; they presented the Guyana Police Force Strategic Plan in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank.
In 2005, we saw the promulgation of the National Drug Strategy Master Plan. In 2006 we saw President [Bharrat] Jagdeo meeting with Baroness [Valerie] Amos and together they issued a statement of principles, which provided the basis for the UK’s support for a new consultancy to improve the police force. In 2007, we saw the UK High Commissioner here – Fraser Wheeler and the Head of the Presidential Secretariat – Dr. Roger Luncheon signing on the dotted line an interim Memorandum of Understanding for a Security Sector Reform Action Plan.
Ten years ago, this plan was signed. 2007 as well we saw Mr. Paul Moriseti … the International Policing Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean; he established a task force of police officers from the National Policing Improvement Agency International Academy at Brahms Hill in the United Kingdom and the Scottish Policing College to implement an action plan, which had been signed between the Government of Guyana and the Government of the United Kingdom. That same year we saw another project to assess the police forces operational capability. In 2008, we saw the establishment of a framework for the formulation and implementation of a National Security Police Strategy. The same year we saw the promulgation by the Minister of Home Affairs of the Liliendaal Declaration on Crime Prevention.
In 2012, we saw the promulgation of the Citizens’ Security Programme; in 2013 the establishment of a Strategic Management Department to oversee police reform. The question you must ask yourself now officers, is whether all of these initiatives – and there may have been more – have all of these initiatives borne fruit? It is my view that if they were conscientiously implemented there would be no monument in front of the officers’ mess today. Police officers would not have died. The high rate of murders would not have occurred and Guyana would have been a safer place.
But officers, this is not the time for coulda, woulda, and shoulda. We know what we have to do. I’m not here to say we coulda do so and so, we shoulda do so and so or we woulda do so and so. We now have, in 2017, to move forward. It is a time for what we will do. It is a time to introduce real reforms that will transform the force. The past should offer lessons for the future; mistakes which have been made must be corrected and avoided in the future. Serious issues occurred. We saw for the first time in the history of this country, a Minister of Home Affairs being brought before the Commission of Inquiry to determine whether he was involved in the phantom gang. For the first time we saw a Minister sitting in Cabinet assassinated with other members of his family and there is no inquiry or even an inquest. We saw families which are now left without mothers or fathers and many of those killings have not been investigated.
So officers, we need to move forward. As you know, I’ve said it publicly there is no secret, in 2015 I went to the United Nations. Some of the business in the United Nations is transacted in the open auditorium where you get all the photographs, but some are conducted in the margins without the cameras.
I met Prime Minister David Cameron of Great Britain. He asked what we needed; I said we need The Security Sector Reform Action Plan. I didn’t ask him for a plane. I didn’t ask him for football courts, stadium. I asked him for something for the Guyana Police Force, something that will make your life easier and something that will make this country safe.
So since 2015 this process started and he obviously passed instructions to his high commission, to his government and gradually a process was put into operation by which we now have in Guyana an expert who is going to do yet another scoping mission. In addition to everything that had been done between 1999 and 2013, to determine what this force needs to enable it to perform its functions efficiently and effectively – everything above board, no secret.
Yes, he’s going to have an office in the Ministry of the Presidency because that is the agreement between the Cooperative Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The agreement is that he is going to advise the president on the implementation of security reform. So he took over an office and the people who were in [that] office had to move and… that’s how we going to Red House, you understand that? Government property
So that movement triggered other movements but the point I’m making is that that agreement was signed ten years ago and it was thrown through the window by the previous administration and as soon as people asked me what I needed I was able to say, put the Security Sector Reform Action Plan back on the table. But of course ten years have passed, crime has changed, smuggling has continued; all sorts of things have happened so we decided that before we just adapt the old plan, see whether changes have to be made to it and that is exactly what is taking place.
So what I see is that we now have to embark on a new programme of building community partnerships. We have to work with the community. We have to know what people in the community need and think so that they become our partners, not our opponents. The police force has to be friends with the people, not ‘friends-in’, friends of the people. Sometimes people when they’re ‘friends-in’ they drink too much and they close their eyes when their eyes should be open. So you must be friends of the people. So we build a partnership between the police and the communities and this will then help you to get information and to build intelligence networks. So you can’t be in a whole big region like the Rupununi and nobody ain’t even say, “By the way, planes landing at Yupukari!” People cutting wood, covering up.
If you were friends of the community somebody would have told you something. Everybody got cell phone nowadays but if the community, if the residents, treat you in a hostile manner and you treat them in a hostile manner, they wouldn’t give you intelligence, they wouldn’t give you information – and I can tell you this because on January the 3rd, 1969, I was on the ground at Lethem and people knew what was going on but they told us nothing. So we went in there and five policemen got killed because of poor passage of information and low confidence that people had in the police. I’m not blaming you for something that happened in 1969, but I’m telling you there were clear indications that there was going to be trouble and police officers were killed, starting with Inspector Braithwaite, because of poor passage of information and low confidence.
Secondly, we have to build the capacity of the police force and that is why we re-engaged with the British to re-establish the Security Sector Reform Action Plan with an emphasis on capacity building for the police force. Up to now I can’t understand why somebody could offer you a three and a half million Pounds Sterling plan and you throw it through the window. It must be that somebody offered you maybe a four million Pounds Sterling, even a five million… I don’t know, but how could you reject a three and a half million Pound Sterling plan that would help your own police force? Strange.
As you know, we have now launched a new National Drug Strategy Master Plan and quite recently in this very auditorium, we launched a Trafficking in Persons Master Plan and by these steps we will make the people of Guyana proud of its police force and we will make the country of Guyana a safe place. You would have heard, I don’t know, earlier in this conference about the crime intelligence and the plan by the Minister of Public Security to improve crime intelligence. I wouldn’t go into that. I don’t want to discuss something which is being deliberated on, when he is ready he will do what he needs to do but we need to have a better crime intelligence system so that we can anticipate crime; we can detect crime and of course we could apprehend the offenders.
Above all, the Government of Guyana seeks to enhance officers’ professionalism. You are the leaders of the Guyana Police Force and you have to be aware of what’s going on in the officer corps, who is to your left and to your right, who is to your front and who is watching your back. This is not a celebrity contest. This is an important area of government which has a direct impact on people’s quality of life. I see you as professional officers. I don’t pick up a mason and make him deputy commissioner; I don’t pick up some tassa drummer and say you must be superintendent.
A professional force means first of all that you have to be educated, experienced in your profession and your education separates you from quacks. A person who is not trained is a quack and as I tell the teachers, would you fly in a plane from Georgetown to New York with a person who is untrained. If the pilot is untrained would you fly with him? The answer is no and if a police officer is untrained, uneducated, would you put your safety in his hands? The answer is no.
So education, especially in policing, training in policing is the most important element in your professionalism and the commissioner must aim relentlessly at ensuring that his officers receive the best training on formal courses, on overseas courses, at local academic courses, and internally by writing exercises, which can rehearse officers in anti-terrorism, in anti-hijacking, anti-kidnapping and other forms of crime, in supressing disorder such as we’ve seen on the streets of some countries.
Every aspect of policing requires training- if it is to be done properly. An untrained officer is a dangerous person because you may be relying on him to do one thing and he does the wrong thing. So the education of police officers, all forms of education and training should be the topmost priority in preparing officers for higher rank.
The second question is equally important, or the second quality of professionalism is equally important, that is, the ethics. I have asked the Commissioner of Police to reproduce or to modify the booklet called the values and standards of the Guyana Police Force; becoming a police officer, a senior police officer is not just a matter of passing courses or serving for 20, 30 or 35 years. You must possess certain values and adhere to certain standards, standards which inspire your subordinates and standards which encourage the public to support you.
I have no doubt in my mind that during ‘the troubles’ I referred to, some officers were complicit with the criminals and it is not for other officers to die, to suffer, because some members of the officer corps are collaborating with criminals. I’m not saying that any of you did that but what I am saying that it had to have happened for ‘the troubles’ to have gone on so long and every now and then we know that somebody pops up with a picture with a person of interest, but this is one of the reason why police officers get killed.
It is not an act of God or force majeure. There are people inside the force who are actually engaged in criminal enterprise. It’s not a joke, it’s not a sideshow, it’s not some little cottage industry, it’s not a hobby that you are seen drinking and liming with crooks, criminals. Is you free time? These actions jeopardise the lives of your colleagues; these actions jeopardise the lives of your colleagues.
No more monuments, we need to establish ethical standards. People want to take a bribe for a firearm licence; next thing the firearm will be pointed at you. People who want to pass some drugs, next thing you know [they] might decide you know too much, time for you to go to great beyond. These things will backfire if we do not have an ethical corps of officers. If you can’t trust the person next to you, how will you be able to work together to solve crimes? So I hope that very soon each one of you would have in your top left hand breast pocket a copy of The Values and Standards of the Guyana Police Force.
And thirdly officers, the third criterion of professionalism is your social responsibility. In the final analysis, Guyanese citizens, women and children have nobody else to turn to but you. You have only one employer. You don’t work for some night club owner; you don’t work for some airline; you don’t work for some man who is moving contraband goods. You work for the State and were it not for you, this would be a lawless country. So you have a responsibility to society. When you could no longer discharge that responsibility, leave. If you’re working for the person who pays you most and the police force is not paying you enough, go. Don’t ask any questions, ‘ah fed up, ah gone’, just go, but you have a responsibility to society and people look to you for justice. They don’t want to hear the file disappear. They don’t want the child to be knocked down on the road and then your child gets charged for carelessness.
So look at your behaviour and develop that consciousness, let society, those widows, those orphans look to you because they feel that you have that social responsibility. So those are the three criteria:
• That you must be educated;
• That you must have high ethical standards;
• And you must display social responsibility.
Every profession has to have professionals. If you are a medical doctor, if you belong to party A, you see the leader of party B come in on a stretcher you have a responsibility to look after that person. You can’t say my responsibility is to my race, to my religion, to my community, to my party; your responsibility is to the whole society.
So these three criteria must guide you in the performance of your professional duties and when it is discovered that officers are misbehaving because somebody put a few thousand dollars in his pocket or because he is related to somebody, then we must make arrangements to separate those persons from the community of law enforcement officers. We must separate them so they don’t do further mischief, further damage to the reputation of this great force and don’t jeopardise the lives of their colleagues through their greed or through their folly.
Officers, we have a lot of work to do together. I have great confidence in you. I am sure that there are more good people in this world than bad. I am sure there are more good officers than bad officers. I haven’t come here to accuse you; I’ve come here to encourage you to embrace security reform. I am quite impressed with the topics you have covered so far during this two-day conference, but in the final analysis when you go back to your divisions you have to be able to implement a higher quality of policing to be able to boast that you’ve been able to stamp out these crimes in your respective divisions.
I have pointed out that you have to have a wide range of skills and competencies. Every division is different. If the division has rivers, you have to have boats and all the officers have to be capable of using boats. You can’t sit down at New Amsterdam, you have to go to DeVelde from time to time and see what sort of farming is taking place there if you know what I mean.
The time will come again when officers have to do equitation. We have to overcome the problems of using mounted police out of Georgetown. We have some setbacks but setbacks are meant to be overcome, we can’t abandon. The Rupununi is bigger than Costa Rica, the biggest region in Guyana; a lot of mischief takes place there. If you can’t have ATVs, you can’t have aircraft, well you can’t ride the bike then you might have to ride the horse but there’s no point going in there if you can’t ride, no point joining the police force if you just want to serve in Eve Leary. You got to get your feet wet. You have to go into the hinterland and other places, wherever your duty calls you.
Officers, I am very confident that at the end of it this process of security sector reform will make you proud of being a member of this police force, a hundred and seventy-eight years this year? 178 years. It will make you proud of being perceived by the Guyanese population as being people, who they respect, not people who they ridicule and laugh at because they take bribes and because they terrorize villages. That’s not policing, that is what causes the problems; that big-stick method. I’m not saying police mustn’t be firm – police mustn’t be sissies, police have to be firm and they will be respected for their firmness when the ordinary residents and the citizens knows they can come to you and get justice.
We want to see that the police improve its investigative capability and also its capacity for collaborating with the community. I like to tell this story, sounds like an anecdote, maybe when you get old you start talking stories round the fireplace you know, but in the mid-1980s there was an incident in which a crook went up to the Grove Police Station and he was able to convince the postmaster that he was a government minister going to catch a plane but he’d forgotten his money in Georgetown and he needed $30,000 immediately. Eleven o’clock in the morning, give the man the plane flight number and everything, went up the road, drove all the way back to Georgetown and by four o’clock CID had every cent. That is policing. No blood on the carpet, nobody got shot but CID had every cent back. Policemen after a while develop a knack, develop a commitment, develop a sense of responsibility. They didn’t ask to split the money in two, every cent was returned to the Grove Post Office. True true story, when you see Skip Roberts ask him.
So today I’m here to share these thoughts with you, I cannot share them with anybody else because you are the leaders of the Guyana Police Force. I ask you to support the security reform programme, as I’ve told you from the chronology with what happened between 1999 and 2013, many of these plans were conceived, many were aborted or miscarried, thrown through the window and there’ve been no visible impact on the structure, on the operations of the Guyana Police Force. This time we’re serious about making the police force more efficient, making you proud to serve the people of this country and I’m sure as a result, the people of Guyana will be proud of the Guyana Police Force.
I thank you and may God bless you all.

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