Georgetown, Guyana – (June 11, 2017) Acting Prime Minister and Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, convened a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seelall Persaud, Commander of ‘E’ Division, Mr. Fazil Karimbaksh, Chairman of Upper Demerara–Berbice (Region 10), Mr. Rennis Morian and Deputy National Director of the Community Development Council (CDC), Ms. Sandra Adams, to discuss the relationship between the regional administration and the police division. At that meeting the police and regional officials refuted the claims published in today’s edition of the Kaieteur News, under the headline “Region Ten Chairman allegedly threatens transfer if ranks disobey him” as malicious, mischievous and without any basis in fact.
Minister Harmon, who was in the Region for another activity, said that the article created the impression that the Regional administration and the police division were at loggerheads and could not work together. This, he said, became a matter of concern and as such, the meeting was convened.
“You cannot have a Region and police at loggerheads because it sends a bad signal that there is a disconnect between security and administration and so the Government thought it absolutely necessary to ensure that there is no disconnect, if indeed one existed,” he said.
The Commissioner of Police, in an invited comment after the meeting, said that after having seen the article, a call was made to the Commander to determine the veracity of the claims. “He assured me that the issues raised in the articles are not factual. As a matter of fact, some of the specific ones, he has no information about and regarding his relationship with the Regional administration, it is a very professional relationship. I had some concerns when I read the article because it impacts on public trust and it impacts on the Commander’s own command of the ranks within the division. So I was happy when I heard that and I was happy also when the Minister called for this intervention. At the meeting, the Regional Chairman spoke the same language as the Commander indicating that the relationship is a professional one, which the police needs to keep,” Commissioner Persaud said.
Commissioner Persaud also noted that as the Police Force continues to advance its community-based programmes, in an effort to build trust and foster a better relationship with citizens, malicious and mischievous articles such as the one published in the Sunday edition of the Kaieteur News, result in fractured relationships between the Force and the residents of the communities.
“Articles such as these certainly impacts the relationships we are trying to build with communities. We have those concerns and that is why we had this meeting. There are some unprofessional standards by the Editor because they could have called, they could have asked to interview the commander on the issues before they actually published so you have a balanced article, but to go out and write an article that raises issues, which can cause the public to lose trust in the police is certainly one of the top issues that we deal with. We are doing a whole lot of work to build public trust because we are dependent on that and certainly articles like these hits centre at the balance of these efforts,” the Commissioner said.
Meanwhile, Commander Karimbaksh, in an invited comment, echoed these sentiments noting that since assuming command of ‘E’ Division in October 2016, the regional administration and the police have had a professional, cordial relationship.
“The article in the Kaieteur News, it is inaccurate. I do not take any instructions from the Regional Chairman. We have a very professional relationship and that has been so since I assumed command of this division in October 2016 and that relationship continues up to this day. At no time [did] the Regional Chairman ever call me and gave me any instructions. What I do recall is that when I assumed command of this division, I spoke to the Regional Chairman and he told me that he is a civilian and I must not report to him, be professional and we will deal with professional issues,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Morian said that the Region could not have asked for a better Commander as the crime rates have significantly reduced since Commander Karimbaksh took over. “I am happy with the work that is coming out from the administration of Commander Karimbaksh and we look forward to seeing the crime rates falling. I am tremendously happy that he was brought to Region 10 because of the professionalism and spirt that he brought here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Adams said that the Region has been in a better place since Commander Karimbaksh took command of the Division. She noted that the police/community relationship has significantly improved and has even resulted in the establishment of 19 youth groups in various communities across the region.
“Since we have this Commander here we have been doing more in the community/police relationship. His deputy and other officers would attend meetings in the communities even with the Mayor and Constituency Reps and CDC officers. We had meetings in the Ward, we had meetings in the valley, and more small community policing groups have been formed. To date, we have about 19 youth groups that the Police actually go to, meet with them, have different kinds of discussions and sport activities on crime and abuse and more of that is happening. That relationship has been building that trust and we have seen a decrease in crimes and I attribute that to the Commander,” she said.