President David Granger: I would like to thank the Association for inviting me this evening. I am always struck by the large number of females. I think you the females overwhelm or outnumber the males, certainly at dinner time. I don’t know what’s going on in the police force.

I’m always happy to be here. I was here last year and being here this evening is, of course, a reflection of my own commitment to the force. If you didn’t know, I was born in a police station – my father’s number is 4081 – so I have a deep and abiding love for the police.

Earlier this week I was in Eteringbang and I was able to visit the police detachment there and see for myself how they do their work at the sharp end; the western-most point of Guyana, where we have continuous difficulties with a very greedy neighbour, which has occupied Ankoko for 50 years – at least up to… month before the last it would have been 50 years, October 2016 – and today I was at Mabaruma and again, I was happy to be in the company of policemen and women.

What the Vice President of the Association said is quite correct – you are the middle belt of the force and the force has been undergoing gradual change and, as usual, a tremendous amount of criticism but I am convinced that the path that you are on; the work that you do; the commitment that you display will eventually make Guyana a safer place; a more secure place for our children to live in. So I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work in 2016 and to look forward to 2017. It is our fiftieth anniversary year and I am aware that there have been some difficulties but I just want to assure you that we have set some institutions in place. Every single week I meet with the Vice President [Khemraj] Ramjattan, the Commissioner, and a few other senior officers of the police force to make sure that we put every possible ounce of effort into policing in this country.

You have started to see changes; there are mounted police on the Corentyne and in the Rupununi. We want to acquire more all-terrain vehicles, we want to bring the police force up to strength and we want to ensure that you all have the conditions; you all have the resources to enable you to do your jobs. So thank you very much for the effort that you put in during 2016.

I know that the statistics have been reduced in terms of crimes and no matter what your commissioner says, no matter what the senior officers say, somehow or the other the press seem to distort and try to prove that what they’re saying is incorrect. Even Vice President Ramjattan pointed out that these statistics are not invented, but the statistics are the result of your hard work you committed.

I know, having come out of uniform myself, that there is always room for senior officers to give direction, to determine policy. There is always a place for the junior ranks who do the beat duties in the offices, in the streets, various regions and divisions and districts, but in the middle there is a band of experienced people who help to guide young recruits and young constables when they come in, and who help to keep this country safe while the senior officers could go on with their policy and other forms of direction.

So tonight I want to say thank you very much for your work in 2016. I would like to extend the gratitude of the National Security Committee of the Guyana Defence Board and of the Government of Guyana to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas. I know some of you will be working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, some of you will be working Old Year’s Night, so you can have a good time tonight.

May God bless you all.

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