… cites shortage of 400 as main reason for leniency
While speaking at two separate events on Friday, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan went on a rampage, bombarding the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for their inexcusable acts of negligence, particularly those taking the country by storm in the past weeks.
According to the Minister, the country is seemingly becoming immunised to the malpractices of the GPF, especially given that such instances continue to persist on a regular basis.
This is as Ramjattan alluded to the most recent incidents which saw a number of top-ranking officials being removed from their posts owing to indiscretions occurring under their watch.
Adding to that, just days ago, yet another prisoner managed to sneak his way out of the Lusignan Prison, in the latest of more than three major breaches in public security for the year thus far.
In light of these alarming events, the Minister, during an address to the media, lashed out at the Police Force, saying, “When you do the [Latin American Public Opinion Project] LAPOP poll, apart from politicians, the Police Force is probably the most distrusted institution in the country.”
However, when questioned as to what will be the approach taken in penalising the ranks who were involved in these incidents, the Minister appeared to be torn between placing the culprits under disciplinary action or removing them from the Force entirely.
Nevertheless, he opted for the more lenient method. “I am 400 Policemen short. This year alone, nine senior officers retired and there is a tremendous shortage of quality people who got experience. That is why sometimes, in moments like these, you are cornered by the decision whether to knock off or whether to chastise and reprimand and tell them to come back and hope that they perform. It’s about giving people a second chance; I like second chances,” Ramjattan stated.
He further argued that sacking officers was not exactly a smart move. “Knowing also the reality of so much Policemen short and also senior ranks who have retired, leaving a lot of vacuum; you go there and knock them off, sometimes it might not be in the interest of the Police Force. These are fellows we sent for training overseas and all kinds of thing and you might very well be wasting an asset, which, if given a second chance, might do better.”
With that being said, Ramjattan acknowledged his role in this matter as the head of the Public Security Ministry and, as such, pledged that “we have to recharge, rejuvenate and do some greater work”.
On that note, the Police Force has embarked on a leadership training programme, targeting a number of ranks with the aim of developing the capacity of the nation’s law enforcers, to reduce the incidents which paint the Police Force in a negative light.
Revisiting the first session of the project, which commenced on Thursday, Ramjattan related, “At the leadership meeting, I gave them a charge as to the kind of professionalism that I want from them and also the honesty that must come from leading members of the Police Force and not to make these embarrassments reoccur because they tarnish the whole Force.”
With the launch of this new initiative, the Public Security Minister looks forward to a reduction and eventual eradication of these damaging cases, altogether. Meanwhile, not overlooking the extent of defects existing within the GPF, Ramjattan indicated that investigations into the matters were still ongoing and based on the findings, necessary action would be taken, especially if the misconduct continued.
As such, Ramjattan pointed out, “There are lots of people who, if they were Ministers, would’ve done it differently. I am going to deal with it the way that I know best and that is to talk to them, to urge them on and if their behaviour continues to be egregious, then we will have to do something.”