Ranks not allowed to randomly stop vehicles & check for documents – Traffic Chief

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Traffic Chief Ramesh Ashram says cops within his Department have been instructed to not randomly stop vehicles and check for documents, unless there is reasonable suspicion.

He made this remark during a call-in radio programme “The Police and You” on Tuesday night which was hosted by Stan Gouveia, the Guyana Police Force’s Deputy Director of Communications.

“Since my assumption as Traffic [Chief] in August 2020, my policy is clear and that of the Force, ranks are being instructed, traffic ranks, not to stop drivers and check for documents, not to arrest persons for minor offences. Take [their] name and address and proceed by the way of summons. If the offence warrants a ticket, issue a ticket. And if you breach these simple SOPs, the standard operating procedure of the Force, you will be dealt with for disobeying the lawful orders,” Ashram contended during the programme.

When contacted today for clarity on his comments, the Traffic Chief explained that unless there is reasonable suspicion, ranks should not randomly stop and search vehicles.

“Don’t go on the road and put up your hand and stop a vehicle from the line and ask for documents,” he explained. However, he said if officers observe road users committing an offence, then they are empowered to approach and take the necessary actions.

He further explained that if a road user commits an offence that is not “ticketable”, then the traffic rank can deal with the matter by way of a summons rather than arresting the individual(s).

During the programme, a caller raised the issue again, noting that traffic officers often ‘stop and harass’ him for documents. The caller also revealed that he is often a victim of “fleecing” whereby cops ask him to “bless” them with some money. The caller claimed that he raised the issue with a Divisional Commander who asked him to provide video evidence of his allegations. The caller said he produced a video but the matter was never followed through.

In response, the Traffic Chief said he is unaware of the issue. He nevertheless encouraged persons to continue reporting these instances to the police and he even provided his office number to the public.

“You’ll find some of these rogue ranks will go out with one intention and continue the behaviour…Reporting them is good by the phone or social media but it is good if you could come forward so that we can take actions against them,” the Traffic Chief said.

He encouraged persons to contact him on 227-2272 if they encounter any issues.