Corrupt officers are like a ‘disease’ in Police Force – PCA Head
Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), Retired Justice Cecil Kennard is urging citizens to make complaints against corrupt officers, noting that failure in taking such action only fosters the disease in the Police Force.
Justice Kennard noted that one of the major problems in clamping down on corruption in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) was lack of cooperation from the general public.
“What I found is that people are very reluctant to come forward. They would make allegations, but they won’t come forward and when they come forward, what they do behind the scenes, the Policeman involved would contact the person from whom they extracted money and they work out some sort of arrangement and then they would come later say that they don’t desire further actions,” he explained.
The PCA Head disclosed that for last year alone, some 840 complaints were made to the entity, but only 25 of them were about corrupt cops.
Out of those 25 complaints of corruption, only a few of the cases saw disciplinary action taken against the ranks involved while the others were just dropped.
The majority of the complaints received by the PCA last year stemmed from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). Justice Kennard said the statistics show that corruption was rampant in the traffic department of the GPF.
The PCA Head reiterated this “disease” could only be tackled with the cooperation of the citizens of Guyana, and he encouraged them to come forth with their complaints against Police Officers.
“It all depends on the cooperation of people. They must be bold enough, having lodged a complaint to see it through…what I would expect is that members of the public are more cooperative and assist the Police Complaints Authority. And when I say assist, they must be bold enough to come forward and bring their reports to the PCA because if they don’t do that, the Police will continue to do wrong things and the image of the Police Force, which is already tarnished, will be further tarnished,” he posited.
Meanwhile, Justice Kennard explained that some of the other complaints were in relation to neglect of Police duties including not acting on a report, not conducting proper investigation, not attending court, and wrongful seizure of property, among others.
Regarding disciplinary action, the PCA Chairman explained that he preferred to avoid taking it to the court in minor cases as legal proceedings were usually protracted.
He resorts to a quicker method of disciplining whereby ranks from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner would have their files sent to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to delegate someone to carry out an investigation. Ranks from Constable to Sergeant would have their files sent to the Commissioner of Police for an inquiry to be held.
At the conclusion of the probes, if an officer is found to be culpable, the file comes back to PCA to recommend a penalty such as warning, loss of pay, reduction in rank, transfer, or extreme cases, dismissal.