Assistant Superintendent Elston Baird, Head of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), has assured the general public that there is no “covering up” in regard to investigations being done by the OPR on ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
This assurance was made while responding to the question posed to him by GPF Public Relations Officer Stan Gouveia on Tuesday evening during the weekly radio programme “Police & You”. The question concerned whether or not members of the Police Force should be investigating themselves if or when they would have committed a crime, or an allegation has been made against them.
This question was asked due to the unwavering amount of complaints made by members of the public by way of letters to the editors in several news publications and also on social media, whereby some stated that they would not approach the Police Complaints Authority due to their belief that matters involving members of the GPF are usually swept under the rug.
“Once reports are made, we have (to take) disciplinary actions. We’ve had a number of officers who have been charged and placed before the court. Recently we’ve seen that Police officers would have been charged for varying offences – corruption, assault against members of the public; and so, if we are to be measured by the perception that Police are not…being impartial in their investigations, it wouldn’t be a fair statement to make,” the Assistant Superintendent pointed out.
He further went on to say that he understands the perception that the general public may have, but noted that they (GPF) have ranks that would have been charged and put before the court on numerous accounts.
Demands and bribes
Meanwhile, the Assistant Superintendent encouraged members of the public to go into the OPR offices within their region, or report to the commander of that region, about Police ranks who may be making demands, monetary or otherwise.
“Once these matters are reported to us, we would investigate. We have had cases where persons would have come to the Police because Police were making demands, and they come to the Police and we set up what we would call ‘sting’ operations and have those persons arrested”, Baird informed.
He went on to say, “I would encourage members of the public, if for whatever reason an officer is making a demand, they can come to the OPR and make their complaint, or they can go – wherever division there is, to the divisional commander and I’m sure that that commander will listen and ensure that whoever that rank is, we would set up that operation and have that person arrested.”
Additionally, he revealed that ‘givers’ of bribes can also be prosecuted as long as the receiver (Police rank) comes forward and gives a statement saying that they would have received a bribe from the accused.