Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie on Sunday said that the risks and sacrifices of law enforcement officers are often taken for granted and underestimated.
His comment comes as the Guyana Police Force on Sunday morning commemorated the death of the 65 ranks who died while on duty over the years. The annual wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Officers’ Mess Annex, Eve Leary, where the Fallen Heroes monument is located.
Delivering remarks, the Top Cop noted that everyday Police ranks wear their uniforms and leave their homes to fulfil their oath and maintain the Force’s mandate of public safety and security as well as its motto “Service and Protection”, without knowing what the challenges or dangers would be.
“Often, in times of crisis, the first call is made to the Police who is in the midst of all the dangers and must face them with incredible courage and ensure that their presence is felt, and law and order is maintained. I’ve often wondered if there are people who don’t see policemen and women as being human, because so much is expected of us. The risks law enforcement officers take is often taken for granted and the role and responsibility and sacrifices of the police are often underestimated,” Hoppie stated.
Nevertheless, the Police Commissioner noted that Sunday’s ceremony was to honour and salute the Force’s “Fallen Heroes”, who are remembered not only for the way they died but for the way they lived – selflessly and unselfishly serving, day in and day out in the various regions across the country.
“They will always be our heroes and we will always be grateful because they give all they could have given in that time. Today, we commemorate the death of each of these 65 policemen who answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” he said.
According to the Top Cop, the Police Force and its members have a solemn duty to ensure that the memories and heroism of these officers are eternally honoured and not forgotten. He added that while the COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in a scale-down of this year’s ceremony, it does not take away from the significance of the event and the importance of standing with their families.
Further, Commissioner Hoppie posited that the sacrifices of these “Fallen Heroes” must be an example worthy of emulation by ranks who are now standing on their shoulders in effective execution of their duties.
“It is painstaking at this time to evoke such memories but while we owe a debt to our fallen heroes that we can never fully repay, we can honour their sacrifice… I want the family, friends and other relatives of these members of the Force who have paid the ultimate price in the line duty to know that the Police Force will continue to share your grief and give support. Our fallen heroes did not die in vain. Each of their stories serve as a testament to the heroism that is part of the everyday life of those who answer the call and put on their uniform. Their lives continue to inspire serving members of the Force and they will continue to live on in our hearts and minds,” the Top Cop said.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn also attended the wreath-laying ceremony and in his address, expressed gratitude to the families of these 65 Police ranks for also making a sacrifice.
“We, at the Ministry of Home Affairs, commit to providing support to their widows, orphans and families,” the Minister stated, further telling the Commissioner, Police ranks and citizens that “…we commit to improving on and providing the requisite, succinct support and direction to help reduce the service risk, the incidence of loss of life and injury and the shared grief we experience on the death of our policemen in service of our country.”
Minister Benn further committed to ensuring that the Police Force work assiduously so that the sacrifices of these Fallen Heroes would not be in vain.
There are currently seven surviving families and 27 dependents of Police ranks who would have died while on duty.
As such, Chairman of the Guyana Police Force Fallen Heroes Foundation, Rev Raphael Massiah, on Sunday reiterated the Police Force’s commitment to continue supporting these dependents of slain Police offers through the Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides financial aids through donations.
“[It] is the commitment of the Guyana Police Force Fallen Heroes Foundation to invest and to come alongside the dependents of the Fallen Heroes in terms of helping them fulfil their education goals and aspirations and dreams. We will continue to work assiduously to [help] them fulfil their educational pursuits…their welfare goals also,” Massiah said.
This Fund contributes to the children of the deceased for their education and welfare.
During the ceremony, words of comfort were also offered to the relatives and friends of the ranks killed in the line of duty by the Police Force Chaplain, Pastor Patrick Doolichand.
Also attending the ceremony were Heads of the Joint Services, former Police Commissioner Leroy Brummel, Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine and other senior officers of the Guyana Police Force including retired ranks.
The Fallen Heroes Foundation is the brainchild of former Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud. It was launched by the Police Force in collaboration with the Cops and Faith Community Network in November of 2015 to benefit the families of ranks who would have died in the line of duty.