[www.inewsguyana.com] – On Saturday last the Guyana Police Force in collaboration with the Cops and Faith Community Network (CFCN) formally launched two projects, chaplaincy and family liaison for victims of serious crimes and domestic violence, at the Police Officers’ Training Centre, Eve Leary.
The concept involved in the Force Chaplaincy is the involvement of the CFCN to provide chaplaincy services to members of the Guyana Police Force, particularly those who have had traumatic experiences. It is recognised that there are police ranks who visit crime scenes such as shooting incidents or murder where they have various experiences that may have a long term effect on them, with a resulting unnoticed pressure building up that may eventually affect them psychologically.
Consequently, in situations where a rank or a group of ranks has been exposed to a traumatic situation it is intended to provide counselling through the CFCN in order to bring some psychological relief. Should the intervention at this level be considered not to be enough based on feedback, then higher and more in depth treatment will be sought.
As a precursor to the initiating of the chaplaincy project the Guyana Police Force has appointed a Force Chaplain, Pastor Patrick Doolichand, who will be coordinating the project and other projects involving the CFCN in addition to ceremonial duties.
Also a number of members of the Guyana Police Force and the religious community comprising Christians, Muslims and Hindus, participated in a Level One Community Service Chaplaincy Training programme during September this year that was organised by the Police in collaboration with the CFCN. The training programme was facilitated by officials of Chaplaincy International and placed emphasis on giving guidance and counseling.
In relation to the family liaison for victims of serious crimes and domestic violence, it was recognised that in some instances the victims of serious crimes are not cooperating fully with the police investigators on issues such as giving statements, attending identification parades and attending court. It is therefore felt that the involvement of the religious leaders attached to the CFCN can have a positive impact by way of bringing some psychological relief to the victims in the first instance, along with giving encouragement for their cooperation with the police as well as the provision of feedback to them on the progress of the investigations into a particular matter.
In many instances persons are more comfortable talking to a religious leader and additionally the presence of the religious leader will serve to motivate ranks to be more professional in their delivery of service and assist in enhancing public trust.
Acting Commissioner of Police Mr. Seelall Persaud, DSM, in an address to the audience that comprised senior police officers including Divisional and Branch Commanders, members of the faith based organisations of the CFCN, sub-divisional officers and subordinate officers in charge of police stations, explained the concepts of both projects and detailed how they should be operationalised.
The system will see the appointment of Police Community Relations Officers in each Police Division who will treat not only with projects of the CFCN but also the social programmes that the Force has on stream countrywide.
Mr. Seelall Persaud noted that the social intervention projects and the work to empower youths in the Police Divisions have impacted positively on the crime rate.
He lauded the excellent partnership that exists between the Police Force and the CFCN and commended the religious leaders who have been offering their services on a voluntary basis and playing a significant role in the development of the projects, while expressing the hope that this will continue and improve with time.
Simultaneously, the acting Commissioner urged members of the Force to be professional and to give of their best in support of the initiatives, while calling on them to strive to develop their interpersonal skills that can lead to improved police community relations.
Force Chaplain Pastor Patrick Doolichand, in brief remarks, pledged the continued support of the faith community in the development of the projects under the CFCN. He stated that some 282 members of the religious community are presently involved in the CFCN countrywide.
At the forum discussions were held on identified issues and recommendations made in order to ensure that the two projects can be operationalised in an effective manner.
Another project between the Police Force and the CFCN, a suicide hotline where depressed persons can call with a view to receiving counseling, is expected to be initiated as early as possible.
The CFCN was launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs on September 12, 2013, as a pilot project for a period of six months in the ten communities in which the Community Action Component of the Citizen Security Programme was involved. These are Sophia, Agricola/McDoom, Plaisance, Buxton/Friendship, Annandale/Lusignan, Angoy’s Avenue, Overwinning/Glasgow/Edinburg, Port Mourant, Rosehall and Kilcoy/Chesney/Fyrish.
At its inception it was a crime prevention effort intended to treat with juvenile first offenders, and involving minor offences, as a preemptive intervention to the New Opportunity Corps.
A review and assessment conducted at the end of the pilot stage was highly positive and consequently the initiative has been expanded countrywide.