SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE AND CORRUPTION IN THE POLICE FORCE


This article below was first published in June, 2014, in a different political era. The recent shooting by the Police of three men on the seawall demonstrates the continuing relevance of the issues discussed at that time. I wrote as follows:

Violence and corruption in the police force can no longer be classified as allegations. They are real and are now an integral part of the culture of the Police Force and policing in Guyana. The sooner the authorities accept that these are chronic and systemic problems in the Police Force, the quicker there will be a serious attempt at a solution. No such attempt has yet taken place, even though modest efforts at ‘reforms’ have been made. But these have been attempted only reluctantly, after much public pressure and as an attempt to soothe public opinion. When public rage overflows, such as after the shootings in Middle Street, the public is offered the creation of a SWAT team. But the danger now exists that the Police Force will become so enmeshed and so entrenched in violence and corruption, that systems to protect these will take on a life of their own within progressively higher reaches of the Police Force.

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INVESTIGATING MISCONDUCT AND CORRUPTION


The Guyana Police Force offers protection and security to the citizens of Guyana.  When, therefore the Acting Commissioner undertakes to improve rapport with the public and investigate misconduct and corruption, it should be welcomed.

Previous Commissioners have given such undertakings in the past, but the fact that they have had to be repeated again and again. It is because the problems of misconduct and corruption are not going away. There is no doubt that efforts have been made to deal with these problems but they are not effective. I encouraged two young men to make complaints to the Office of Professional Responsibility about the conduct two instances of misbehavior of traffic policemen and they were literally laughed out of the room without the traffic policemen even being summoned to answer.

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